Lilly Endowment awards Trine $750,000 for Science of Reading

April 01, 2024

Science of Reading
Kennedy Outwater, a Trine University elementary education/special education major from Bronson, Michigan, teaches a small group literacy session at Hendry Park Elementary School as part of her K-2 Literacy practicum. Trine University education majors will get additional training and certification related to the Science of Reading thanks to a Lilly Endowment grant.
Trine University has received a grant of $750,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its initiative, Advancing the Science of Reading in Indiana (ASRI).

The grant will support Science of Reading initiatives that the university’s Franks School of Education will carry out during the next three years.

According to the Indiana Department of Education, the Science of Reading (SoR) brings together research from education, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology and neuroscience to explain how people learn to read and inform best practices for teaching reading.

Training for current, future educators

One of the main grant initiatives is to provide current and future educators the opportunity for Orton Gillingham International (OGI) training.

OGI provides state-of-the-art structured literacy training programs designed to prepare educators to provide reading instruction to all students and targeted instruction to struggling readers, including those with dyslexia.

OGI training opportunities will be made available for Franks School of Education faculty, including adjunct faculty in the university’s Transition to Teaching program, as well as for teachers from the nine area school districts involved in the partnership.

Additionally, the funding will provide OGI coursework certification for Trine University students majoring in elementary education or elementary and special education. Trine University will be the first university in the state of Indiana whose teacher candidates will graduate with OGI coursework certification.

As part of the partnership with area schools, the grant funds will also enable the university to host collaborative sessions for its teacher candidates, classroom teachers, literacy specialists and building level administrators from the nine partnering school districts. These sessions will take place throughout the school year and in the summer, providing professional learning opportunities specific to the components of the Science of Reading.

Furthermore, the university will utilize grant funds to purchase additional literacy materials used by area districts related to the Science of Reading. These materials will be used in the Franks School of Education to support the development of research-based instructional strategies and help prepare Trine teacher candidates to implement the strategies throughout their clinical placements and into their future classrooms.

“With national studies showing that more than a third of fourth-graders lack reading proficiency, it’s critical for us to provide training to current and future educators on best practices for reading instruction,” said Alecia Pfefferkorn, assistant professor in Trine’s Franks School of Education. “We’re grateful that Lilly Endowment shares this concern and a vision for improving the teaching of reading in Indiana.”

Supporting Science of Reading

Trine University is one of 30 Indiana colleges and universities that received grants from Lilly Endowment to support efforts that integrate Science of Reading-aligned principles into teacher preparation programs.

The grant is the second Trine University has received through the ASRI initiative. Last year, a $75,000 ASRI planning grant allowed the Franks School of Education to host workshops with teachers and administrators from area school districts to discuss the implementation of the Science of Reading in the classroom.

“It is imperative that more of Indiana’s elementary students learn to read proficiently, and it is essential that current teachers and the next generation of teachers are prepared to use proven principles to teach reading in their classrooms,” said Ted Maple, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education. “We are pleased therefore to help Indiana colleges and universities strengthen the use of these research-based principles to teach reading in their teacher preparation programs.”

Lilly Endowment launched the Advancing the Science of Reading in Indiana initiative in 2022. It complements a statewide effort undertaken in 2022 by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) to improve reading achievement in K-12 schools by helping current teachers implement Science of Reading-aligned principles in their classrooms. In 2022, Lilly Endowment made a $60 million grant to the IDOE to support that work with school districts and teachers across the state of Indiana.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private foundation created in 1937 by J. K. Lilly and his sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with its founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education, and religion, and it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.

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