Piedmont’s school system is set to receive a $2,000 grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to support youth literacy programs, the chain of stores announced last week.

According to a news release, the annual grant provided nearly $90,000 this year for schools and organizations in Alabama and $2.8 million across the U.S.

“We are so excited to be a recipient,” Piedmont Elementary Principal Brigett Stewart said Tuesday. “We plan on using the funds for our kindergarten classes.”

Stewart said most of the funds would be spent buying books that children who are just entering school can read.

“What we’re wanting to do is create miniature libraries for kindergartners, where they will have access to a variety of books for early readers,” Stewart said.

Stewart said the miniature library program will be called “mProve,” going along with the school’s technology program, “mPower.”

The grant was made available for schools, public libraries and nonprofit organizations to assist in creating or expanding youth literacy programs and purchasing necessary books, technology and equipment.

To be eligible, the school or organization has to be located within 20 miles of a Dollar General store. There is a store in the city on U.S. 278.

“Each fall, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation proudly provides financial support to schools, libraries and nonprofit literacy organizations that help students and teachers as they head back to the classroom,” Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s chief executive officer, was quoted as saying in the release. “Whether it is providing books and technology or enhancing reading programs, today’s grants will help students reach their full potential through targeted literacy initiatives that impact the communities Dollar General serves.”

According to the latest National Assessment of Education Progress in 2017, 69 percent of fourth-graders in Alabama scored below “proficient” in reading, meaning they are reading below their grade level.

“We have a huge focus on improving literacy schoolwide, and that starts with our kindergartners,” Stewart said.

Piedmont’s school system is one of 36 schools and organizations across the state to receive funding from Dollar General for literacy programs.

According to the release, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation was created in 1993 in honor of J.L. Turner, a co-founder of the company who was functionally illiterate and never completed a formal education.

Contact Staff Writer Daniel Mayes at 256-235-3561 or danielmayesstar@gmail.com. On Twitter @DMayes_Star.

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