To help promote international literacy development, and provide professional development opportunities related to the improvement of reading and writing instruction in the area of international literacy.


Carol Owles, Chair
Mauren Basala, Blackhawk    
Karen Zeigler, Central Illinois
Laura St. John, CARA  
Kathleen Liace, CIRP
Lauren Hopper, East Central-EIU    
Karen Ringas Masus, Fox Valley
Jaclyn Turner, Illini
Kathleen Sweeney, ICARE 
Leslie Forsman, ILLC
Anne Hufnus, ITA
Regetta Wharram, Illinois Valley   
Stacie Noisey, Lake Area
Savannah Brewer, Lewis and Clark
Holly Steiling, Macon County    
Carol Owles, MID-State    
Lesie Forsman, Mississippi Valley
Talitha Wiedman, National Road
Jacqueline Cleven, Northern Illinois
Kristin Schmidt, Northwestern Illinois    
Tracy Bilie, Prairie Area
Kimberly Bork, Sauk Valley
Rachel Lesinski-Roscoe, SRL
Tambree Krouse, South Eastern
Joey Christofanelli, South Suburban
Nyla Montgomery, SIRC 
Jodie Landers, Starved Rock
Pam Kaufman, SCIRA  
Christine Throop, Two Rivers    
Annie Robertson, Vermilion Valley
Marlene Panebianco, West Suburban
Melissa Stinnett, Western Illinois  
Tammy Springer, Will County


The International Committee of the Illinois Reading Council has created a grant to promote literacy projects internationally. Studies indicate that poverty levels and literacy rates are inversely proportional. By supporting our international community in the areas of literacy, it in turn improves our universal society. The IRC wants to support these efforts. The  International Grant Application and Deadlines are available online. The maximum amount per grant is $500. The application deadline is May 1. Grants will be awarded for the fiscal year ending June 30. Awards will be announced by July 15.


Grant Review Committee

Carol Owles, Chair
Jen Burisek
Jeanne Okrasinski
Karen Ringas Masus



  • A to Z Literacy Movement is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that improves the lives of impoverished children through literacy development.  Currently, the organization’s activities are primarily focused in Zambia, Africa and the Chicagoland area.  This year we will: 1) provide school lunches for approximately 160 pupils for six months- $1890; 2) Entirely fund the yearly salary of two Zambian teachers - $3500; 3) Ship over 3000 books to classrooms, libraries, and children's camps in Zambia.  Cost to ship a box of books = $4995; and 4) Remodel and replenish small library for after school program in northern Illinois = $100.  Daily, A to Z Literacy Movement and its partners provide education and support to over 100 Zambian children.  For more information about the A to Z Literacy Movement, please contact Mal Keenan.

  • Guatemalan Schools benefit from handicraft sales at annual IRC Conference.  One of IRC's International Projects is to provide as many books to the classrooms in Guatemala.  In February, a team of IRA members travel to Guatemala to work in their elementary schools and in their "Normales" (teacher training schools) for one week.  While in Antigua, Guatemala, several Reading Councils in the U.S. purchase  handicrafts from small shops and vendors to sell at various meetings and conferences.  The profits from these sales will be used to purchase books for Guatemalan classrooms, teachers, and students.  Look for the Guatemalan Handicraft Booth at the annual IRC Conference.  For more information about the Guatemalan Schools Project, please contact Carol Owles.

  • Instituting Health Literacy in Rural Bhutan was awarded the 2013 International Literacy Grant.  The project will promote health literacy and hygiene habits through a project designated for the small country of Bhutan.  University professors, college students, a teacher partner in Bhutan, and Bhutanese students will come together to influence healthy routines such as proper hand washing and personal cleanliness in this underdeveloped country. Healthy habits text sets and informational literacy such as posters, pamphlets, and public service announcements will be used in this grant.  The health literacy information will spread through the village homes, influence older generations and make a strong impact on the school setting in Eastern Bhutan.  At the conlusion of this grant, it is hoped to see more children attend school regularly due to heathy habits and in turn, help this tiny Himalayan counry thrive for many future generations.  For more information, please contact Darryn Diuguid.

  • Writing Workshop Rocks in Haiti was awarded the 2012 International Literacy Grant.  The workshop was an instructional model that viewed writing as an ongoing process in which students followed a givens set of procedures for planning, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing their writing.  It allowed students to be at various stages of the wiritng process at one time. Collobaration with peers adn teacher is inherent in this model.  Process writing focuses primarly on what children want to communicate.  The workshop served the students at Charles Mason Annex Primary School in Carrefour, Haiti.  With the success of this program will come the opportunity to impact more schools with the writing workshop process to continue to alleviate the low literacy rate in the country of Haiti.  For more information, please contact Maria Perryman.

  • Literacy in Two Languages was awarded the 2011 International Literacy Grant.  The goal of the project is provide elementary school teachers at CEDEI School, in Cuenca, Ecuador, with 1) professional development books on teaching reading and language arts in dual language programs and 2) high quality children's literature in English.  Faculty and administrators at The Centers for InterAmerican Studies, a U.S. based non-profit that grew out of the Augustana College Summer Spanish Program, began this school seven years ago, with a focus on pre-school education and special needs. Since then, a grade has been added each year and the school has grown to 114 students, including a 10% special needs student population, most of whom are blind.  The school is a trilingual school, with a focus on English, Spanish and French, and reflects in its curriculum the theme of global citizenship and justice. (www.cedei.org)  Those of us who dreamed of this school years ago gave much thought to the kinds of curriculum, pedagogies and leadership models we would want.  Currently, CEDEI School is a very effective teacher-led school, and we embrace an eclectic mix of Dewey, Freire, Nel Noddings, Deborah Meiers' small school approach, with project-based learning and inquiry-based learning as our guides. Our language curriculum is guided by the work of Jim Cummins, Sonia Soltero, and our multiculturalism is guided by Sonia Nieto, among others. We are unique in Ecuador, and teachers and scholars from around the region and the U.S. come to see education in action at CEDEI School.  Domestic visitors are interested in seeing, in particular, what we do with special needs students because, in Ecuador, special needs children are typically kept at home. We also have a strong social-emotional learning emphasis. We are a U.S. based 501C3 private school, and we are also committed to maintaining full scholarships for 25% of our students. Resources are scarce in Ecuador, however, and the average monthly salary for a public school teacher, for example, is less than $200 a month. Also, books can be quite expensive--often more expensive than in the U.S., and we have had to rely upon U.S. donations for quality children's literature. Our current library for the students is under 200 books and many of those are well-worn. We also have a great need for professional texts for teaching literacy, particularly in a multilingual setting.  For more information about the Guatemalan Schools Project, please contact Kathleen McInerney.

  • Bhutan Family Literacy Puppet Project was awarded the 2010 International Literacy Grant.  The goal of the project is to increase children's motivation for learning and oral language development by giving preschoolers the chance to listen to quality children's literature, create puppets to pair with the stories they hear, and perform the stories in a tabletop theatre in front of peers and parents.  The Family Literacy Puppet Project will take place at a Montessori School in Bhutan, located in the eastern Himalayas.  As a country, Bhutan has experienced countless changes over the past few years.  With a new king, democracy, and constitutional monarchy, education has become one of the ten ministries that make up the new Bhutanese government.  Public education system is a fairly new concept in Bhutan.  Likewise novel in Bhutan is the early childhood model, which is imperative in the development of the country's educational plan.  The International Projects Committee feels that the work to be accomplished by the Family Literacy Puppet Project in Bhutan will be a positive step toward that country's educational mission.  With funds provided by this grant, teachers will work with at-risk families.  These families lack English proficiency skills and/or secondary education.  Chosen families will complete activities together in a literacy-based educational environment to earn books for their personal libraries that will continue strengthening at-home literacy exposure.  By utilizing the Internet and Flip Camcorders, video greetings will easily be sent between the Bhutanese Montessori students and cooperating Illinois public school students, thus mutually facilitating exposure to different cultures, languages, and customs.  These Bhutanese and American children will benefit from puppet performances recorded during class time with their respective teachers and parents.  It is hoped that Bhutanese children, using puppets and children's literature as part of their curriculum, will increase their oral language development and motivation for learning.  For more information about the Guatemalan Schools Project, please contact Carla Raynor.

  • Literacy Bread Basket Projectwas awarded the 2009 IRC International Grant. Upon launch of the project, Jamaican classrooms will be partnered with classrooms in Illinois that have an interest in cross cultural exchanges.  The project will provide Jamaican classrooms opportunities to promote literacy strategies with good quality literature for children, help develop a professional resource library, to demonstrate several ways to conduct workshops for parents, to increase the use of technology for literacy activities, and to provide a Family Reading Festival. The overall goal is to improve the children's reading and writing performance.  For more information about the Literacy Bread Basket Project, please contact Jo Ann Karr.

For more information, contact us at [email protected].