By Art Garcia

S.S. Dillow Elementary received a donation of nearly 1,500 books from Read Fort Worth’s Classroom Library Campaign on Tuesday, Aug. 29. The new, durable and culturally-relevant titles were distributed by students, teachers and Classroom Library Campaign volunteers to classes from pre-K through second grade.

“Our major, major focus this year is reading,” Dillow principal Erika Moody said. “As you know with Fort Worth ISD, we’re trying to ensure that every last one of our third-graders by 2025 are reading on grade level. We’re pushing from our pre-K up until fifth.”

Currently, just 35 percent of Fort Worth ISD third-graders are reading on grade level.

“We’ve got a big mission ahead of us to get those other 65 percent of kids back up to that level so that they can read in the fourth grade and experience something wonderful,” said James C. Estill, retired CEO of Calloway’s Nursery who serves on the 12-member Read Fort Worth Executive Council.

Staff members from the Facebook Fort Worth Data Center, a Campaign supporter, helped distribute the books to the various classrooms. The titles chosen reflected the Dillow’s diverse ethnic makeup, with a number of books offered in English and Spanish.

“They’re culturally sensitive and a kid can read a book that allows them to identify with the protagonist,” FWISD Board of Trustees president Tobi Jackson said. “So many times, we’ve had books that kids couldn’t identify with, so this is the coolest thing ever.”

In addition to Dillow, the Classroom Library Campaign has delivered books to Fort Worth ISD elementary schools De Zavala, Sims and Sunrise-McMillan. The Campaign has raised more than $160,000 in gifts and commitments to date towards its goal of providing 100 new books each for pre-K through second-grade classrooms at about 40 high-needs elementary schools.

A generous supporter has challenged the Fort Worth community to raise at least another $100,000 by Sept. 30, 2018, to qualify for a matching grant that will double the impact of gifts to $200,000. Contribution levels range from $25,000 to provide books for pre-K through second grade classes on a single campus to $6,000 for a grade level, $1,500 for a class or $15 for a single book.

Donations may be made through campaign partner The Education Foundation for Fort Worth Schools at http://readfortworth.org/donation or by check. For more information, email contactus@readfortworth.org.

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