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Community Spotlight: Rays Baseball Foundation Awards $5,000 Grant to the Early Learning Coalition


PALMETTO – The Early Learning Coalition (ELC) of Manatee County, Inc. has been awarded a $5,000 grant from the Rays Baseball Foundation to expand and enhance the community-wide "Every Child A Reader" initiative for preschool children. The program is a partnership between the ELC of Manatee, the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton, child care providers and community leaders. The funds will enable the partnership to reach more children and parents.


This event will be implemented in the spring of 2014 and will coincide with the statewide Children's Week events, the local Children's Parade, and Party in the Park. The goals of the "Every Child a Reader Day" program are to increase preschool children's access to books and exposure to reading to help build a strong foundation for literacy. Children ages 3-5, primarily from low-income families, will be the primary beneficiaries of the program.


It is estimated that 2,300 children will receive books and participate in the volunteer-led reading sessions, as well as the continued reading at home and in their preschool classroom. Approximately 150 early childhood educators will benefit by having their classroom libraries expand with additional books and more diverse themes/topics.


The Rays Baseball Foundation, the official charity of the Tampa Bay Rays, awarded a total of the grant through the Community Fund Grant during a pregame ceremony on Wednesday, September 18. The Rays Baseball Foundation is committed to supporting youth and education programs throughout the Tampa Bay region.


Key contributors to the Foundation include Rays owners, players, sponsors and fans. Since 2008, the Foundation has proudly invested more than $3 million in youth and education programs in the region through grants, programs and scholarships. The Rays Community Fund Grant Program provides assistance to local nonprofits in the Tampa Bay region. Grants averaging $5,000 are awarded to help support and enhance current youth and education focused programs offered by community-based nonprofit organizations.


The Early Learning Coalition of Manatee County, Inc. is a multi-service agency dedicated to helping children develop skills that they will need to be successful in school and life. The agency's focus is on high quality school readiness opportunities for all children and their families, understanding that it is in the first years of life that a child's future educational success is determined and the critical role of parents, as their child's first and most important teacher. To learn more about Coalition's services, go to www.elc-manatee.org or call 941-757-2900, extension 221.


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