WILL Pressroom

Illinois Public Media’s Book Mentor Project receives grant from PNC Foundation


Children in Head Start classrooms around central Illinois will have a new lineup of wonderfully engaging books to enjoy throughout this school year, thanks to a $25,000 grant from the PNC Foundation in support of our longstanding Book Mentor Project at Illinois Public Media. This is the 18th consecutive year the foundation has funded the local reading program.

Dave Henry, PNC Bank manager in Champaign, helps build a counting tower at the Rantoul Head Start site during a family engagement night.

“The Book Mentor program aligns perfectly with our PNC Grow Up Great® mission to support children and caregivers in areas such as: vocabulary development, social-emotional learning, math, science, and the arts." said Brian Ray, PNC regional president for Central Illinois.

From navigating the big city to visiting a carnival to helping kids celebrate diversity in one another and within different household dynamics, this year’s seven book selections are sure to open new worlds to the children and their families.

"PNC has helped our Book Mentor Project serve more than 10,000 Head Start children in central Illinois since 2004," said Kimberlie Kranich, director of engagement and educational outreach at Illinois Public Media. "They have been a steadfast, flexible, and engaged partner with us all these years.”

Research has shown if parents and caregivers read to their children just 20 minutes a day, it will help increase their vocabulary and reading skills. There are many ways for a child to interact with a book while it is read aloud to them. This is why each new book includes a bookmark that provides at-home learning activities to enjoy. Each year, Illinois Public Media’s Book Mentor Project distributes, on average, 3,500 books locally.

PNC Foundation

The PNC Foundation, which receives its principal funding from The PNC Financial Services Group (www.pnc.com), actively supports organizations that provide services for the benefit of communities in which it has a significant presence. The foundation focuses its philanthropic mission on early childhood education and community and economic development, which includes the arts and culture. Through Grow Up Great, its signature cause that began in 2004, PNC has created a bilingual $500 million, multi-year initiative to help prepare children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.