Grants mean books for kids

By Kimberly Wethal

Nov. 11, 2015

It’s the mission of two teachers at UW-Whitewater’s Children’s Center  to make books a part of daily life – and now a monetary grant is making that mission possible.

Childcare teachers and UW-Whitewater alumni Jenna Kenny and Elizabeth Backes, each received a $100 grant from the Meemic Foundation on Nov. 6 which they plan to use to purchase new books for their classrooms and give back to local libraries.

“One of the things that we would really love is for books to be a part of daily life,” Backes said. “It’s not a ‘this is the only time we read books, right before we go to bed,’ it’s a part of everyday life.”

The Meemic Foundation, created by the insurance company it’s named for, gives out more than $30,000 in grants to teachers and schools in Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois each year, according to Mark Lindow, the insurance agent partnering with Meemic who came to Whitewater to deliver the grants.

The company focuses on selling lower-cost insurance, like home and auto insurance, to educators because they tend to be more cautious people. As people pay their premiums, part of the money goes back to their own classrooms through the grant program.

Lindow works for Zach Lindow Insurance Agency, a business started for his son, Zach, a UW-W senior business major, who will take over the company when he graduates in the spring.

With the grant, the two teachers are hoping to get “books in hands” of all the children, Backes said. Each child will be able to have a book to call their own and take home with them after having them available in class at the Children’s Center all day.

“I feel like a lot of [the children] at the school are really excited to read,” Kenny said. “Kids today have read like five books in the rocking chair [while at the Children’s Center].”

The Children’s Center on campus provides daycare and education for the children of faculty, staff, students and parents from the Whitewater community.

Another goal for the grant money is to give back to the local libraries, including Andersen Library and the Whitewater Public Library, 431 W. Center St.

Children at the center walk with their teachers to the public library once a month when the weather permits for storytime. The center coordinates with Andersen Library to put on programs for the kids each year.

“It’s a way to say thank you for all the work they’ve done for us,” Backes said.

Any funds left over will be used to purchase new books and more copies of well-liked books into Kenny’s and Backes’ classrooms according to the teachers.

The two applied for the grant after finding out about it in the set-up kits for the Scholastic Book Fair, which will be held in the Children’s Center from Nov. 23-25. The application process consisted of only a few questions, Kenny said, with the application being geared towards the reading culture in the Children’s Center’s classrooms.

Scholastic makes the cost of purchasing books cheaper for classrooms as well, furthering the grant and allowing the purchase of higher-quality books for cheaper than it would cost at traditional book stores.

“It’s a huge benefit to families,” said Erica Schepp, interim director of the Children’s Center. “It’s also very good to the teachers and the educators, and the schools that participate.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email