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UMSL gets $5.1M grant to advance literacy strategies among local educators

The funding comes to UMSL as two sub-awards, which are part of a larger grant to the state of Missouri
Credit: SLBJ

ST. LOUIS — Shea Kerkhoff, assistant professor at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, and her co-principal investigators, have received a $5.1 million federal grant to help promote evidence-based literacy strategies among local educators.

"Being able to read the words on a page is different than literacy," Kerkhoff said in a statement. "Literacy means being able to use reading and writing to successfully engage in civics and community life and in your career. Even as a literacy researcher, I continuously learn new words. It's not like there's just one point where somebody can read or can't read. Our reading gets better, especially if we work on it continuously."

The funding comes to UMSL as two sub-awards, which are part of a larger grant to the state of Missouri, officials said. The U.S. Department of Education awarded 11 state education organizations grants for its Comprehensive Literacy State Development program. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) received $18 million to be distributed over five years, officials said. Kerkhoff submitted a proposal to DESE this past spring for the funds.

"I was really optimistic because of the projects that we put forward," she said. "I was really confident about the amazing scholars, policymakers, teachers and literacy experts from across the state who were willing to come together to do this work."

Kerkhoff will implement projects with her co-principal investigators Katie O'Daniels, an assistant teaching professor and director of Gateway Writing Project, and Nancy Singer, associate professor and director of the Department of Educator Preparation, Innovation and Research. 

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