Linda Munchausen, a professor in the Southeastern Louisiana University Chemistry and Physics Department, received a 2012 literacy grant from Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines.
One of 14 recipients nationwide to receive the award, Munchausen is president of the SLU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi. She has taught at SLU for more than 30 years and is the 2004 recipient of the SLU President’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service.
As part of the grant, the Phi Kappa Phi chapter at SLU has partnered with the Kiwanis Club of Hammond and the Zeta Kappa chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education, to provide “Blessings in a Backpack” to students at Woodland Park Elementary Magnet School. Nicki Anzelmo-Skelton, associate professor and graduate coordinator in the Teaching and Learning Department and a member of the Southeastern Phi Kappa Phi chapter, is the sponsor for Kappa Delta Pi and has worked alongside Munchausen on the project.
The “Blessings in a Backpack” program is a national movement that provides snacks and reading material to low-income children each weekend, Anzelmo-Skelton said.
“Poverty affects a child’s physical, social and academic well-being,” Munchausen said. “When children, especially young children, experience poverty, they are at great risk for difficulties throughout life.”
Currently, the SLU collaboration of “Blessings in a Backpack” provides 80 at-risk students at Woodland Park Elementary Magnet School with backpacks filled with healthy snacks and meals each weekend. Through the Phi Kappa Phi literacy grant, Munchausen said, the Southeastern collaboration was able to take the program to the next level by adding new books to each backpack. The project is projected to serve 160 students by January 2013.
The Phi Kappa Phi Literacy Grants program was initiated in 2003 to provide an opportunity for campus chapters and individual members to champion literacy initiatives in their communities. Drawing from a multidisciplinary society of students and scholars from large and small institutions, applicants are encouraged to consider literacy projects that have creative relevance to their disciplines and to the needs of their communities.
Founded in 1897 at the University of Maine, Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. The Society has chapters on more than 300 select colleges and universities in North America and the Philippines.