SLU professor receives $2,500 literacy grant

Cynthia Elliot, a professor in the Southeastern Louisiana University Department of Teaching and Learning, received a $2,500 2013 literacy grant from Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines.

Elliot, who has taught at Southeastern for 18 years, is one of 14 recipients nationwide to receive the award and was the 2011 recipient of the Southeastern President’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service.

The grant, Elliot said, will be used to support the Imagination Library Project, an early literacy initiative. As part of the project, children living in Tangipahoa Parish will receive a new, age-appropriate book in the mail each month.

The program encourages parents to read with their children during the preschool years and aims to foster a love of reading.

“The Phi Kappa Phi grant is a wonderful contribution to the larger Tangipahoa community endeavor to provide young children from birth to age 5 with their own library, at no cost to the family, regardless of income.

“The Imagination Library Project has an early literacy focus with support from various agencies in Tangipahoa Parish,” she said. “Once the project begins in Tangipahoa Parish, the hope is that the children will be served for many years to come. It would be awesome for the Imagination Library opportunity to become part of the early literacy culture for the community.”

Elliot said the Imagination Library Coalition includes the United Way of Southeast Louisiana, the Department of Teaching and Learning at Southeastern, Child Advocacy Services, the Hammond Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, the Louisiana Children’s Discovery Center, Tangipahoa Parish Schools, Hammond City Court, Leaders Impacting Tomorrow’s Leaders and Regina Coeli Head Start.

“The university is pleased to be a part of such an important early literacy initiative in the community,” Elliot said.

The Imagination Library Coalition is in the process of raising $25,000 to begin the program in the fall. It costs $30 for one child to receive books for one year. The total cost per child for five years is $150, which will enable a child to receive a new book every month until his or her fifth birthday, Elliot said.

To make a donation, contact Jamie Burchfield at the United Way Tangipahoa regional office at (985) 264-5344.

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.

Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 at the University of Maine. The society has chapters at more than 300 colleges and universities in North America and the Philippines.