- Summer Matters
VFES Receives Grant for Read to Pet Pals Program
VALLEY FORGE EDUCATIONAL SERVICES RECEIVES GRANT FROM JAMES PATTERSON AND SCHOLASTIC READING CLUB FOR READ TO PET PALS PROGRAM
Valley Forge Educational Services (VFES) is pleased to announce it has received a grant from bestselling author James Patterson to support its Read to Pet Pals program. In addition, Scholastic Reading Club will match each dollar of Patterson’s donation with “bonus points” that teachers can use to acquire books and other materials for their classrooms. VFES was selected amongst thousands of applications for funding grants. Patterson has personally donated $3.5 million to school libraries nationwide.
The VFES Read to Pet Pals program provides students of various ages a unique opportunity to improve their reading fluency and confidence in a supportive environment by reading to therapy animals from the nonprofit, Pals for Life. Many of the students have a diagnosis of mild-to-moderate autism and struggle with their social connections and communication skills. The Read to Pet Pals program not only develops the students’ literacy skills but also nurtures their abilities to interact socially with one another, the therapy animals and the volunteer handlers.
Across all grade levels, reading specialists and speech therapists often accompany the students to the Read to Pet Pals sessions and work specifically with students on his or her literacy goals. In a relaxed setting with the animals, students have increased motivation and reduced stress when asked to read aloud. This generous grant from Mr. Patterson and the Scholastic Reading Club gives VFES the opportunity to offer this innovative reading experience for their students twice a month during this school year.
In the first-ever partnership of its kind, Patterson joined forces with Scholastic Reading Club to administer funding applications to their network of 62,000 schools and 800,000 teachers. Schools entering were asked to share the story of their library or reading program, including past efforts to make improvements and “great ideas to help create a brighter future.” Patterson personally read and selected the winning recipients of the grants.