Not all students enter kindergarten at the same level. Some students can read well while others are still working on basic letter recognition. Studies have shown that early literacy support is critical in future academic achievement and Foundation 65 is dedicated to helping our youngest students to succeed in the classroom. Kindergarten-LEAP is an outreach early literacy program developed by the LEAP team at the Evanston Public Library. Through innovative play scenarios featuring dynamic themes and coordinating props and activities, Kindergarten -LEAP addresses early literacy skill building while encouraging positive community and social interaction.
LEAP was originally derived from two programs: Play Literacy (created by the Madison Public Library), and an early literacy parent education program called Every Child Ready to Read (created by two Divisions of the American Library Association and the National Institutes of Health).
The Evanston Community Foundation funded LEAP initially in 2006. During the 2006-2007 school year, the LEAP team delivered parent education programs and 6 monthly programs to 250 preschool children at D65 Head Start and the Child Care Center of Evanston. Since then the LEAP Program has continued at the pre-school level reaching preschool children at D65 Head Start, State Pre-K, Child Care Center of Evanston, Creative Play and some home-based care providers.
In 2007, District 65 school librarians became aware of the LEAP program and were interested in adapting it to their enrichment time in their school libraries. Foundation 65 was approached in the spring of 2007 as a funder for this project and through discussion and submission of a grant application, F65 granted monies to pilot Kindergarten LEAP at three D65 schools: Dawes, Lincoln and Willard.
In the third year (2009-2010) of support by F65, the Kindergarten LEAP program continued to create a bridge between preschoolers and kindergarteners by expanding to include 7 schools across District 65 (Dawes, Lincoln, Lincolnwood, Oakton, Orrington, Walker and Willard).
Since the 2010-2011 school year Foundation 65 has funded this innovative program for all kindergartners in all schools across District 65.