Foundation Awards $75,000 grant to CAST
For many children in our county, the simple act of reading is not so simple. However, for EVERY child in our county, the ability to read proficiently is an absolute requirement in order to be successful in life. Volunteers at CAST have been tutoring students who struggle to learn to read for many years, and now, thanks to a $75,000 grant from the Washington County Community Foundation, CAST is going to be able to step up their ability to help struggling readers in a big way.
"We are profoundly grateful to the Washington County Community Foundation for the generous grant funding. This money will help us build our vision for a Southern Indiana Dyslexia Center which we know will literally change the lives of kids and families in our community," stated Dustin Houchin, CAST Board Member.
CAST, with this financial assistance from the Community Foundation, seeks to be a model for addressing reading difficulty in a rural community. So far, 35 teachers and tutors in Washington County have been trained in the Orton-Gillingham method of teaching reading. This phonetic method is tremendously effective for teaching dyslexic students to read and it also improves reading outcomes for all students in a classroom. Tutors are now beginning to offer free reading tutoring services to students who need extra help – focusing on those who screened as displaying dyslexia characteristics – but open to all students who have need. This initial investment is only the beginning of a much more expansive vision. Because the community is in the midst of a service desert, there is a great need for a regional Dyslexia Resource Center that would provide much needed training, tutoring, family support, and testing services.
“We know that about 20% of the population in the United States are dealing with dyslexia and reading difficulty. We also know that a child who does not learn to read functionally by third grade is four times more likely to drop out of school than his or her peers. Our work at the Dyslexia Resource Center is the realization of a dream that will not just give hope - it will give real support, real strategies, a real system that is proven to help children read at grade level. With this investment we will be able to expand teacher trainings, offer family support services, develop dyslexia testing services, and tutor any child who needs our help in Washington County and throughout Southern Indiana,” stated CAST Director, Cassie Summers-Corp.
Currently, 7 students are receiving in-person tutoring services through CAST but many more spaces will soon be available and there are 19 classrooms in Washington County equipped with a Reading Specialist teacher who received training through CAST. Since inception, CAST has tutored over 200 students in Washington County.
“Game changer is a term that is probably over used in our society,” stated Judy Johnson, Executive Director of the Washington County Community Foundation. “But what do you call it when a child who has struggled all his life to read, is three years behind his classmates and is only in the third grade, suddenly has the light switch turned on in his brain and can now read? A child who, within a few months of being diagnosed, was reading at grade level. Without a doubt, his future was transformed. There are many more children like this one in our region. The Dyslexia Resource Center will be a beacon of hope for them to have the same opportunities as their peers. We just have to identify them and then teach them in a different way.”
Ultimately, CAST envisions a regional Dyslexia Resource Center that will serve a multitude of needs for children across Southern Indiana. Currently, the closest resource centers are in Louisville and Indianapolis. To accomplish this, CAST is partnering with Dyslexia Institute of Indiana. “The Dyslexia Institute of Indiana has been an invaluable resource for our organization by providing training, support, and advice to us in our mission to serve families in Southern Indiana. We are so grateful for our partnership with an organization as highly-regarded and excellent as the Dyslexia Institute of Indiana,” said CAST Board President, Kim Scifres.
The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to engage people, build resources and strengthen our community. Visit the website at www.wccf.biz and like the Foundation on Facebook.
Through tutoring and mentoring opportunities, CAST seeks to encourage students in Washington County to become contributing citizens who develop a lifelong passion for learning. Visit their website at www.castwashco.org.