Dillingham City School District awarded $3.4 million literacy grant to boost reading skills

Oct 13, 2021

The grant, “Innovative Approaches to Literacy” will be spread out over five years and used to fund a project that the district calls “LINKED.” That stands for Literacy Innovation for Neighborhood Kids’ Education Development.

Part of the grant will help develop libraries for students. Library assistants will help with literacy tutoring, family reading nights, story time and book distribution.
Credit City of Dillingham

The grant, “Innovative Approaches to Literacy” will be spread out over five years and used to fund a project that the district calls “LINKED.” That stands for Literacy Innovation for Neighborhood Kids’ Education Development.

Superintendent Jason Johnson laid out several goals and activities in emails to KDLG that included a PowerPoint for the project.

In a statement, he wrote "The LINKED project will allow the district to expand upon our highest academic priority in education, by engaging with parents, guardians and the community, to dramatically increase district and city library services for our students."

Johnson did not respond directly when asked to interview. 

Credit Superintendent Jason Johnson

Some of those activities include a monthly book distribution service, family reading nights, an after school digital literacy program and incentivized reading programs like the “Million Word Club” and the “Wolvereading Challenge.”

Other initiatives would include a parents as educators’ literacy program through the Bureau of Indian Education. The district will create “multi-tiered” reading interventions for students with unique learning needs. And by 2026, it will implement a comprehensive district literacy plan for both Dillingham Elementary and the Middle-High School. 

The grant also provides funding for professional development for staff through REACH Education Consulting, a group of educational consultants that work throughout rural Alaska the district works with REACH for response to intervention training, and Reading is Fundamental, a non-profit children’s literacy organization. 

In the statement, Johnson wrote, "...as well as by enabling the district to add staffing dedicated specifically to literacy advancement without putting additional burdens on our instructional team. In short, it is truly a win-win for our students!"

Three new positions will be created using money from the grant. Two literacy specialists will carry out the

Credit Superintendent Jason Johnson

proposed activities and programs, while a literacy coach will support implementation of the project. Johnson said in an email that current staff will be encouraged to apply for these positions once they are available. Assistant Superintendent Vincent Kane will serve as the project director.

The administration plans to talk about the project with the school board at a work session on Monday, Oct 18. It expects to start implementing the grant this school year. 

The district worked locally with the Curyung Tribal Council, the City of Dillingham and the Dillingham Public Library to secure the grant. The district also partnered with the Alaska Department of Education, REACH Education Consulting and Reading is Fundamental.

Find the whole presentation here.

Credit Superintendent Jason Johnson

Contact the author at tyler@kdlg.org or 907-842-2200