Our Signature Project: Raising Literacy Levels

What is a “Signature Project”?

Signature projects provide valuable and needed services to a community. They elevate awareness of Kiwanis, engage current members and remind them why they joined Kiwanis.

Why was literacy selected as our Club’s “Signature Project”?

From its inception, the focus of Kiwanis has been on youth and youth programs as witnessed by our defining statement: “Improving the world one child, one community at a time.” In the words of Francis Bacon, “Knowledge is power”. Nothing is more important than the ability to read, as it is the gateway to knowledge.

What are the goals of “Raising Literacy Levels”?

The Kiwanis Club of Coldwater has supported youth projects and programs since it was chartered in 1935. The support has covered a wide range and has changed with the needs of the community. Youth programs that focus on literacy have been at its core for many years. Long term programs such as Terrific Kids and The Dictionary Project focus on bringing books to children in the elementary schools. As the search for meaningful projects progressed, the literacy levels of third grade students came to the forefront.  

With recent state legislative changes, third grade students will be subject to specific requirements to pass to fourth grade. If they are not reading at grade level, they are prohibited from advancing. This situation brought increased importance and urgency to bear, and as a result, a partnership between The United Way of Branch County, The Great Start Collaborative, Coldwater Community Schools and the Kiwanis Club of Coldwater was formed.  

What are the undertakings of the “Signature Project”?

There are four projects that are part of the Signature Project. They are each unique, but all promote improved reading levels for the students.

Terrific Kids Book Reward Program – The club awards books to students who participate in a program, overseen by their teachers, that encourages academic and personal goal setting. Club members visit the schools to award books to students who reach their goals. It is estimated that 4,000 books are distributed each school year. 

Coldwater Schools of Hope Reading Program – A partnership was formed with the United Way of Branch County, The Great Start Collaborative, Coldwater Community Schools and the Kiwanis Club of Coldwater. It is a one-on-one tutoring program in which volunteer tutors are paired with second grade students who are not reading at grade level. Presently, over 80 community volunteers are active in the program which educators are indicating is attaining the desired goal. 

The Dictionary Project – The goal of this program is to assist all students in becoming good writers, active readers, creative thinkers, and resourceful learners by providing them with their own personal dictionary. The dictionaries are presented to third grade students at Jefferson Elementary, Pansophia Academy and St. Charles School.

Traveling Tales – This is an interactive program sponsored by the Club at the Branch District Library. The library hosts a recurring program that focuses on different countries cultures, food and dress. Children participate in activities during the event, which serves to showcase the library as a resource, a place of knowledge and an extension of the learning environment.