• 52°

O.P. Earle seeks help to continue 30-year RIF tradition

Polk Schools programs already fully funded locally
O.P. Earle Elementary School in Landrum has announced that it is seeking community support to continue the school’s Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), which is losing federal funding as of December 2011.
In addition to corporations, foundations, community organizations and thousands of individuals, RIF has been supported by the U.S. Department of Education, but as of December, that federal funding will end.
That means O.P. Earle will lose about $2,000, Dawn Lynch of O.P. Earle said. Currently, all children at O.P. Earle receive three books each year, which costs approximately $4,500 each year. Federal money matches local money raised from donations from local businesses, foundations, the school’s Parent Teacher Organization and civic groups such as the Landrum Lion’s Club. In order to continue this 30-year tradition, the school is seeking 100 percent of the funding for RIF from local sources.
Polk County elementary schools do not use federal funding for the RIF program, according to Polk Schools Superintendent Bill Miller. The program is funded entirely through local individuals and organizations such as the Rotary Club and the Polk County Community Foundation, Miller said.
RIF, the largest children’s literacy nonprofit in the United States, is designed to prepare and motivate children to read by giving them free books and literacy resources. RIF provides new, free books for children to choose from and make their own.
“The seeds of inspiration in these books have motivated children to follow their dreams and achieve their potential,” Lynch said. “Yes, it seems incredible for a book to launch a life, but it happens every day as inquisitive young minds reach out and grab hold of the new people, places, and ideas that books bring them.”
According to Lynch, O.P. Earle Elementary has participated in the Reading Is Fundamental program for nearly 30 years. Over those years, she said, thousands of books have been given to thousands of children. Many local parents who attended O.P. Earle as children said they remember the RIF distribution days.
“We are committed to the RIF vision, which is ‘…a literate America in which all children have access to books and discover the joys and value of reading,’” Lynch said.
To make a contribution to O.P. Earle in support of the RIF program, call the school at 864-457-3416 or make a check payable to O.P. Earle Elementary and designate it for the school’s RIF program.