Baesler announces ‘Striving Reader’ grants

State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said this week that 15 North Dakota communities have been awarded up to $27.3 million in grants to help students improve their reading skills, according to a press release.

The “Striving Readers” money from the U.S. Department of Education will be used to aid early childhood and kindergarten children, and students in elementary, middle and high school, Baesler said.

“This grant will benefit students of all ages in classrooms across our state, as well as youngsters who have not yet started school,” Baesler said in the press release.

North Dakota school districts and community partners were invited to apply for the grants in January. The money is intended to benefit the literacy needs of disadvantaged children, including those with disabilities; those learning English as a second language; children who are homeless or in foster care; and those living in low-income homes.

Sites that receive the money are required to track the progress of students who benefit from the programs. The funds may also be used to provide literacy-related technical assistance and professional development for educators. The grant funds may not be substituted for existing financial support for reading programs, Baesler said.

North Dakota legislators have approved distributing $10.6 million in grants during the first year of the three-year program. The Department of Public Instruction plans to include the remaining $16.7 million in its budget proposal to the 2019 Legislature. If lawmakers authorize the grant funding, the 15 communities will receive annual grant installments for the following two years.

The first year’s grant amounts are listed below:

Belcourt: $714,277

Bismarck: $2.18 million

Devils Lake: $526,432

Fargo: $864,325

Grafton: $737,494

Jamestown: $404,125

Kidder County: $272,173

Langdon: $77,051

Mandan: $329,958

Minot: $1.45 million

New Town: $897,775

Parshall: $248,469

Rugby: $140,020

South Prairie: $232,684

West Fargo: $1.56 million