Microgrants spread literacy and learning

Erin Chandler | Feb 17, 2023
Members of the Kiwanis Club of Wayne, Nebraska, U.S., pose with Life Tree Academy Preschool students and supplies for their creative space

Every child deserves the support necessary to become a confident and enthusiastic learner. Unfortunately, schools around the world are struggling to meet the needs of all students, and especially to fill the gaps in learning and literacy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. That is where Kiwanians and the Kiwanis Children's Fund step in.  

Of the nine clubs that have received Children’s Fund microgrants since the first round were awarded in October, three have chosen to foster kids’ learning and future success by focusing their efforts on the Kiwanis cause of education and literacy.  

Bringing a community together to read 

The Kiwanis Club of Roseña-Santa Rosa City in the Philippines saw the teachers at Santa Rosa Elementary School – Central II struggling to help students catch up on their reading skills following the pandemic and as growing class sizes made it difficult to offer individualized instruction. With a microgrant from the Children’s Fund, the club orchestrated a solution that benefits everyone involved: free tutoring courtesy of 10 students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Santa Rosa Campus.  

In groups with a ratio of three students to one tutor, children will get the attention they need. Club President Melody Dolosa hopes the program will change kids’ attitudes toward learning and give them new confidence in the classroom. At the same time, the tutors will fulfill their on-the-job training requirements for graduation, parents will no longer have to worry about paying expensive tutors, and teachers will know their students are getting extra help from qualified individuals. Community partners have been glad to lend a hand as well: The Santa Rosa City Library is providing the venue and reading materials, and the School Parents-Teachers Organization transports students to and from their tutoring sessions.  

Meanwhile, Kiwanis club members are tracking progress and providing refreshments. This project shows that great things can happen when local communities and the global Kiwanis community come together to serve children.  

Books that benefit everyone 

When Gary Scholtens, president of the Kiwanis Club of Ripon Noon, Wisconsin, U.S., noticed the same lag in children’s literacy in his community, he consulted with Linda DeCramer, a club member who is a children’s librarian. Together, they came up with the idea to purchase 28 large-print Playaway Wonderbooks, which include built-in audiobooks, for the local library. According to the club’s research, large-print books and audiobooks provide a more accessible reading experience for kids with disabilities — and they increase reading comprehension and confidence in all young readers, especially those who are struggling. Plus, children love them.  

Scholtens, a retired teacher eager to boost kids’ learning, decided to purchase as many Wonderbooks as he could with funds his club set aside for a project of the president’s choosing. For help, the club applied for a Children’s Fund microgrant.  

“More books plus more kids reading gives us hope for faster improvements while instilling a greater love of reading,” Scholtens says.  

DeCramer estimates that each of the 28 Wonderbooks could be checked out 10 or more times in a year, benefiting hundreds of kids in the Ripon community.  

A creative space to read and learn 

The Kiwanis Club of Wayne, Nebraska, U.S., discovered through their community survey that more than 170 children between the ages of three and five were on waiting lists for preschools in their area. With the help of a Children’s Fund microgrant, they are partnering with the new Life Tree Academy preschool to get more kids into an early learning environment. Grant funds will go toward the purchase of books, mats and beanbag chairs, art supplies, games and puzzles to make a creative and educational space within the new preschool.  

Kiwanians will help install the equipment and plan to visit the school every month to read to the preschoolers. Club board member Teresa Dredge hopes the children thrive in their new preschool and that the program can eventually include even more students.  

Microgrants can help your club 

Leaders of all three clubs above recommend that other clubs with 35 members or fewer apply for microgrants to help them carry out their own projects.  

“Having not written many grants personally, I was concerned that it would be more than I could do on my own. It was far from that and very easy to complete,” says Teresa Dredge, who wrote the application for the Kiwanis Club of Wayne. 

Dredge and Kiwanis Club of Ripon Noon President Gary Scholtens recommend talking to members of your community to find the areas of need where your club can be most helpful. Melody Dolosa, president of the Roseña-Santa Rosa City club, also recommends that clubs make sure their financial planning and documentation are in order before applying. Scholtens agrees — investigating costs ahead of time can keep “surprises to a minimum.”  

“From start to finish, this was the easiest grant application I have ever done,” he concludes. 

The Kiwanis Children’s Fund makes grants that improve the lives of children around the world by identifying the projects that create a continuum of impact in a child’s life — one that spans their entire childhood and sets them up for a bright future. By funding projects that target the Kiwanis causes of education and literacy, health and nutrition, and youth leadership development — whether through a Kiwanis club’s local service project or through a club’s partner — the Children’s Fund ensures that its grantmaking has the greatest possible impact. 

To learn more about the Kiwanis Children’s Fund Microgrant Program, visit

If you want to amplify your impact and reach children around the world through the Kiwanis causes, you can make a gift to the Children’s Fund or learn how your club can apply for a grant to help kids in your community today. 


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