For years, Charlotte Rotary has been participating in projects to give dictionaries to third graders in low income schools. For many, if not most, this is the first book they have ever owned and that they can call their own.
The Dictionary Project is a nationwide non-profit with the goal of increasing literacy across the world. Over 2 millions dictionaries were given to students in 2013 and over 18 million through 2013.
Learn more on their website - www.dictionaryproject.org
The idea for The Dictionary Project began in 1992 when Annie Plummer of Savannah, Georgia, gave 50 dictionaries to children who attended a school close to her home. Each year she continued to give this gift, raising money to help give more and more books so that in her lifetime she raised enough money to buy 17,000 dictionaries for children in Savannah. Early on, her project attracted the attention of Bonnie Beeferman of Hilton Head, S.C., who began a project of raising money by selling crafts to buy dictionaries for the schoolchildren of Hilton Head and the surrounding communities. By 1995, Bonnie was getting so many requests from local teachers to be included in the project that she wrote a letter to the editor of the Charleston Post and Courier explaining the project and asking for someone to help meet requests from the Charleston area. Mary French, who was already an active school volunteer even though her two children were still of preschool age, read the letter and decided this was a project for her. Starting with a few schools in Charleston and Summerville, she realized quickly that providing dictionaries to all the students in Charleston was going to require serious fundraising. She and her late husband Arno French formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Association in 1995, along with a Board of Directors. Arno served as president, Mary became the director of the Association, and The Dictionary Project was born.
Since its implementation in 1995, over 18 million children have received dictionaries because thousands of people saw the same need in communities all over the United States.
The original goal set by the board was to provide dictionaries to all third-grade students in South Carolina every year. This goal was achieved in 1999. After The Wall Street Journal published a story about the project in March 2002, the Dictionary Project took on a national purpose and expanded its mission to include students in the 50 United States. The program is typically implemented in the third grade each year, since this is the age at which dictionary skills are usually taught. Educators describe third grade as the time when a student transitions from learning to read to reading to learn.
While part of a Rotary climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Rotarian John Tabor presents english dictionaries to members of 9 Rotary Clubs, plus a school at a Maasai village. English is the second language of Tanzania.