UWRRV Provides Multicultural Books to Early Learning Centers in Winnebago County

United Way of Rock River Valley (UWRRV) is the recipient of a $14,568 grant from Healing Illinois, a partnership between the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) and the Field Foundation of Illinois, to ensure that young children are exposed to diverse cultures and languages through literature. UWRRV is one of 184 Illinois organizations that will engage in racial healing activities.

“This funding allows us to provide more than 1,100 multicultural books and translated materials for caregivers, teachers, and parents of children 3-5 years of age in the Harlem School District, Rockford Public Schools (RPS), and early learning centers across Winnebago County,” said Julie Bosma, president and CEO of UWRRV. “Each book provided will reflect the children’s native language and include English translations, fostering a rich, multicultural learning environment. By breaking down language barriers in the classroom, we aim to eliminate racial biases and reduce bullying incidents.”

Bosma said UWRRV had provided books to Harlem and RPS for years but did not have the funds to buy them for all 26 languages, including Albanian, Arabic, French, Hindi, Lao, Polish, Serbian, Swahili, Turkish, Vietnamese, to name a few.

“Teachers have shared with us that when children are exposed to multicultural literature, they exhibit a greater understanding and appreciation of differences, leading to the development of inclusive relationships regardless of color or ethnicity,” said Jessica Iasparro, director of community impact at UWRRV. “By initiating this process early in their educational journey, we seek to nurture awareness, appreciation, and respect for diversity in our future generation.”

For more information about United for Literacy or to support UWRRV’s literacy efforts, please contact Director of Community Impact Jessica Iasparro at 815-299-5545 or jessica@unitedwayrrv.org.