Home Youth service PNC Grant Offers Internships to Strengthen School Readiness for Local Youth

PNC Grant Offers Internships to Strengthen School Readiness for Local Youth


January 24, 2022

BLOOMINGTON, ILL. – A grant from the PNC Foundation will enable a partnership between Illinois Wesleyan University and Bloomington Public Schools District 87 to foster academic opportunities for students from low-income households in Bloomington.

The PNC Foundation awarded Illinois Wesleyan $18,000 to fund summer internships for four undergraduate students in the Department of Educational Studies at IWU.

Interns will work in District 87 schools during summer programs and enrollment events, particularly with K-5 students from low-income households. Interns will assess students’ reading skills, provide strategies to boost their academic achievement, and help build confidence and interest in reading.

Summer is a great and important time to address academic readiness and equity through reading support, according to Dr. Diane Wolf, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning for District 87.

“District 87 and Illinois Wesleyan University share a passion for providing a high quality education to all Bloomington students,” Wolf said. “We are fortunate to have IWU willing to think outside of its own students to those in our community who need extra help. IWU students are great role models for our Bloomington Public School students and we are
lucky to be able to offer this opportunity together.”

In addition to supporting the reading skills of an underprivileged population, this program will address the need for volunteers and summer interns at local schools while creating meaningful connections between Bloomington youth and the IWU Titans.

“We are strengthening our ties with the schools in District 87 through working with in-service teachers and administrators who serve as mentors to our teachers-in-training. Our teachers-in-training apply what they have learned from their classes when they help diagnose students’ K-5 reading levels and providing support to improve their reading skills,” said Leah A. Nillas,
Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational Studies at IWU. “Most importantly, we participate in serving low-income and ELL (English language learners) students who need help with reading and overall academic readiness through this service-learning internship experience. ”

It is estimated that 400 District 87 students will benefit from this internship program. Through the newly established Center for Engaged Learning at IWU, the University intends to continue the program long-term with additional fundraising.

By Julia Perez