SMART Family Literacy Quality Community Partnerships
Updated October 13, 2018
SMART Family Literacy is a literacy outreach organization that depends upon quality two-way partnerships with others dedicated to bringing literacy and its benefits to every child. Partners share their facilities and access, which means that our focus can remain on the well-being of children and a minimum of SMART resources go to facility and administrative costs. In 2018, SMART Family Literacy has made an effort to formalize partnerships and deepen the relationships, rather than adding more names to the long list.
Odyssey Academy has partnered with SMART Family Literacy since 2005. Odyssey and the Children’s Center were the first two partnering organizations.
In 2018, Odyssey Academy has supported our three low cost early childhood educator workshops aimed at child care centers serving babies through age eight. Odyssey provided a free venue for the workshops in their mini-café and preschool classrooms. Odyssey principal, Ginger Kieckbusch, taught one of the breakout sessions each time. On April 21st, 47 participated. On June 30th, 62 participated. The third workshop is scheduled for October 20th. A SMART directors’ support group is part of this initiative. About 12 different centers have participated.
SMART Family Literacy provided a family engagement event for Odyssey in early 2018 and a pre-service training for pre-K teachers about using vegetable gardening to teach the early childhood education curriculum. Each year, SMART visits the classrooms of Pre-K, kindergarten, and others to read aloud and give books to the children.
Galveston has provided Room 180 in the Scott Building as a volunteer center and resource (book) processing center. Galveston I.S.D. has waived the rent on the room because of the extensive assistance rendered to GISD by SMART staff and volunteers. The location provides easy access for Ball High student organizations which need community service projects. In the 2017-18 school year, SMART reached 1,071 (non-duplicative) GISD children with educational projects, giving them 5,373 books. (There are about 7,000 students in all of GISD.) Galveston recently received a federal grant for 21st Century after school programming and SMART is written into the grant budget as a line item to provide educational enrichment classes. SMART has provided services to GISD children since it began, but the partnership has become more formalized in the past year and the benefits have reached the broader community, as a result.
Galveston County Daily News/Big Brothers Big Sisters/DSW Homes
SMART is involved in a 4-way partnership in support of literacy, especially focused on the Press Run, which took place September 8th. Registration for the Press Run supports Newspapers in Education. SMART gave 500 children’s books at the event, which promoted family fitness, a great addition to initiatives to improve whole child literacy and health. September 8th is International Literacy Day. The Galveston County Daily News and Big Brothers Big Sisters hosted the little yellow house, our ongoing mobile children’s book drive.
Moody Methodist Pumpkin Patch
SMART Family Literacy schedules field trips and reads stories to young children visiting the patch. Approximately 1,500 children received a free book from SMART in 2017 and 1,800 have registered to visit the pumpkin patch in 2018. SMART teaches about vegetables in the pumpkin patch and gives parenting tip sheets (for reading with young children) to the many parents who visit. The ministry originated as a youth ministry at the church, but youth are in school and unable to host the school day field trips. This partnership extends the benefit of the scenic spot to children of all ages and their families. Evening and weekend events raise funds for youth to go on mission trips. A gradual change in the ages of field trip visitors and the size of groups a few years ago and the church staff sought help in presenting an age-appropriate story time from SMART.
Sea Star Base Galveston (SSBG)
SSBG provides a venue and partnership for family friendly events. Since SSBG is also a STEM education organization, the two organizations have collaborated to present Pi Day Galveston, which engaged 150 participants in mathematical fun and learning about maritime applications of mathematics on March 14, 2018 (during spring break). This event is also supported by Ball High School’s math honor society, Mu Alpha Theta. SSBG and SMART are currently co-planning a second annual event, “Salty Tales,” a sea story literacy event on November 28th, 2018. “Salty Tales” will include a book signing by the author of Venture Girls, and a specific effort to encourage youth to consider careers in STEM.
The Spot Restaurant
The Spot hosts family literacy events on the second Tuesday of every month. The restaurant provides free veggie platter, fruit salad, and gives a quarterly donation to cover the cost of books that are given away during the events. Reading aloud, arts and crafts, and a kid-friendly food preparation class are regular features of the event. 37 people attended the August event, which was typical. The largest was 53 people in April 2018. The Spot is an exemplary business partner for SMART, promoting early childhood literacy and family nutrition with SMART Family Literacy.
In 2018, SMART needs increasingly larger amounts of fresh produce to give to children and families during after school and summer programming. We look to Seeding Galveston for locally grown and interesting fresh vegetables. SMART provides opportunities for participants to see, touch, smell and taste new local and exotic vegetables and fruits in a free setting (able to reject or accept). In other words, many of the items from the community garden may never appear on the school cafeteria menu. The community garden has provided rampicante and other squash in fun shapes, cotton plants, and sweet potato greens. We connect most weeks to pick up the freshest local items to take to our students and we even volunteer at the garden on market day. This partnership allows Seeding Galveston to reap the benefits of outreach to thousands of children, which brings unusual plant crop words to the vocabulary of learners.
Texas A&M University at Galveston
Texas A&M student organizations have provided volunteers for work days consistently since 2008. Most of our paid STEM Education interns have been students from TAMUG. This fall, we are working with Dr. Jenna Lamphere as a community partner in a fall honors course to provide a service learning project in the topic area of food insecurity for students who will receive course credit for the work completed. SMART is continuing to offer paid and unpaid internships for TAMUG students.
University of Texas Medical Branch
UTMB Pediatrics partners through their “Reach Out and Read” initiative and accepts books from SMART, which they distribute to children who visit their three clinics. They distribute via a book cart, where patients choose a book after visiting the doctor. Also, pediatricians use new baby board books during well-child checkups. SMART also donates books to Dr. Matt Hays’ office in Texas City. Three UTMB medical professionals, Dr. Abe DeAnda, Dr. Suzanne LaForte, and Martha Norris, serve on our Board of Directors and guide health-related decisions and information. SMART has provided more than 21,000 children’s books to UTMB thus far, as a result of the partnership, but the relationship has benefited other partners, including Shriners and smaller churches, who need only a few books for their clients or students.
First Book and First Book National Book Bank
First Book is a national 501(c)(3) vendor, which provides high quality information and books that are especially suited to our diverse high need audiences. During Hurricane Harvey and the aftermath, First Book provided more than 5,000 new high quality children’s books free to SMART for distribution to children affected by Harvey. First Book is an important source of information for us, as well as a vendor, as they offer collections of books that address literacy areas of highest concern throughout the nation.
Save the Children
Save the Children provided an in-kind donation of children’s books to SMART Family Literacy in May 2018. Approximately 2,500 new books were delivered on four pallets to the room provided by Galveston I.S.D. and were unpacked and prepared for distribution by 47 volunteers on June 26th, 2018. The teens visiting from Minnesota were provided through the United Way Galveston. These popular books quickly became a beautiful contribution to the layers of support SMART Family Literacy is providing to child care centers throughout Galveston County. Other components of the support network include a Galveston County Directors Group, low cost early educator workshops, “Sing a Book” (a musical language rich program provided to classrooms with babies through age 3), and small vegetable gardening on site at child care centers.