Bessie Minor foundation awards grants to the county library, Friends of Oasis |

Bessie Minor foundation awards grants to the county library, Friends of Oasis

Steve Ranson
Jeslyn MacDiarmid conducts her readign program at the Churchill County Library. A grant from the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation will also go to her summer reading program.

Two groups in Churchill County have received grants from the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation.

The Churchill County Library received an award of $2,500. The Family Reading Program will offer reading and literacy related materials and activities to families in Churchill County.

These funds will purchase books, crayons, a cup and bags along with two sets of Legos, a wooden block set, supplies and printing costs and advertising. Materials will be offered in English and Spanish and will be available to the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Tribe.

“The Churchill County Library is thrilled to be the recipient of Bessie Minor Swift Foundation grant, which will be used to expand the Family Reading Program,” said Carol Lloyd, the library’s director. “Programming is a large part of what we do and these funds will allow for additional programming to all ages.”

Lloyd said the Family Reading Program will dovetail with the summer reading program and continue through the end of the year with a special program around the holidays.

“It is expected that in excess of 400 people will benefit from the Family Reading Program,” she added.

Lloyd said studies have shown that exposure to books and reading and the skills associated with reading results in future success for all ages.

“We believe that the library is a part of the literacy solution and these funds allow us to reach more people in a different way and for a longer period of time,” she said.

Friends of Oasis Academy received $2,000 to mitigate the “Summer Slide,” a summer reading program. The program consists of online reading blogs for 200 children in Grades 3-8. Licensed teachers create questions on a novel of their choice and students respond to those questions on a blog.

Additionally, they support a six-week tutoring program for students who are below grade level in reading. They have supported this program for the past two summers and the results have been just what they hoped, mitigating the summer slide. The number of students will double, and so they will have increasing costs.

“This program is critical for all students, not just students reading below grade level.” said Melissa Mackedon Oasis Academy administrator, “Students tend suffer the “summer slide” if they don’t read over the long summer break and making this program mandatory and part of the quarter 1 grade really helps alleviate some of that ‘slide.’ We have found that the combination of a summer reading program and multiple years with the same reading teacher is a winning combination for maximizing growth.

Mackdeon said staff tries to pick high interest books that children will enjoy reading.

“If they are below grade level parents can read it to them, or get it audibly,” she said. “This grant makes it possible to pay the teachers who create the blog and monitor the students answers and progress. Any parent, not just an Oasis parent, could call the school and we could share the blog information if they wanted their child to participate.”

The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation, formed by the owners and founder of Swift Communications, awards grants to programs that promote literacy, reading and writing skills as well as programs that focus on the arts, languages and sciences. Since 2008, more than $300,000 has been awarded to organizations in the communities where Swift Communications conducts business.

More than 200 applications were received in February. The Foundation grant criteria calls for detail on how many people will be impacted by the organization’s project and how significant a role the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation will play in the program.

Furthermore, applicants must provide a complete description of the project including objectives and strategies to meet those objectives, explain how the project will be evaluated and submit a budget.

Recipients will report on their results and insights from their program once the projects are completed.

This year, applications were of exceptional quality and more than $67,000 has been awarded to 33 deserving organizations. The Bessie Minor Swift Foundation thanks the many groups that took the time and energy to apply and encourages those that were not selected to submit applications in the future.

Other Northern Nevada organizations receiving awards included the following:

Capital Cities Circles Initiative

Carson City


This is a cooperative community effort to elevate people out of poverty by intentionally creating relationships across class lines and empowering people in poverty to chart their own course toward self-sufficiency. These funds will primarily be used to purchase computers for the resource center so that adult students, children and tutors can more readily access online learning programs.

Mark Twain Elementary School

Carson City


This project will use the literacy and music connection as a basis for instruction. It is their goal to improve student achievement in the areas of reading and composition by utilizing Orff Schulwerk practices and instruments in conjunction with children’s literature in the music classroom. Funds will purchase the Game Plan Curriculum book and children’s books for grades 1-5 along with four Xylophones. Mark Twain is a Title 1 school.

Incline Elementary School

Incline Village


An integral part of elementary education is providing after school programs where students can continue to learn, but also have fun. At STREAM Club students explore science, technology, reading, engineering, art and math, all focused around a water/nature theme in the out of doors.

Northern Nevada Literacy Council



The Northern Nevada Literacy Council (NNLC) plans to build upon last year’s hugely successful Summer Reading Program. NNLC is a school for adult learners taking classes to get their Certificate of High School Equivalency, ESL classes or Citizenship classes. The poverty level in this part of Reno is 61% and the crime rate is 16% higher than other area communities. Seventy percent of the students are Hispanic and 85% of them have children. The Summer Reading program donation will pay for books and instructors so NNLC students and their children experience reading together and activities including science experiments, puzzles, crafts and singing. Funds will pay for instruction, and buy books and backpacks.

Sierra Nevada Journey



Funding will serve up to 800 children and their parents in northern Nevada and Northeastern California with four community-building and educational events called Family STEM Nights (FSN). FSNs invite K-6 students, their parents, and siblings to attend a fun, family-friendly evening, which reinforce STEM concepts learned in the classroom. Each event includes mini challenges, family-based competitive projects and dinner. Approximately 200 people attend each event, and SNJ provides a 39% match.