Howard County Rotary Clubs improve literacy thousands of words at a time

 Howard County’s Rotary Clubs have been providing dictionaries to Howard County school children for five years. April 15 the county’s seven Rotary Clubs formalized their efforts with a new partnership with the Howard County Schools. Nancy Szlasa, Rotary District 7630 Assistant District Governor, Mary Schiller, Partnerships at the Howard County School System (HCPSS), and Howard County School Board member Sandra French, along with representatives of the seven Howard County Rotary Clubs, signed the agreement.

Under the partnership agreement, Howard County’s Rotary Clubs will purchase and distribute copies of A Student’s Dictionary & Gazetteer to third grade classrooms—reaching approximately 3,500 students. Rotary representatives will also visit the classroom to introduce some of the dictionary’s popular features, such as the longest word in the English language, presidential biographies, and the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights. Rotary Club members will also collaborate with Howard County high schools to develop leadership, primarily through the Interact Club and /or Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA).

‘Rotary’s goal is to help students learn to read and read to learn,’ stated Szlasa. ‘This partnership with the Howard County Schools will help our efforts. Through this literacy program students can improve their communication skills as well as their quality of life and that of the community-at-large.’

Howard County is the home to seven Rotary Clubs with more than 275 members that meet on different days and times in Maple Lawn (Clarksville Club), Columbia (Columbia, Columbia-Patuxent, and Columbia Town Center Clubs), Ellicott City (Ellicott City, Ellicott City Sunrise Club), and Elkridge. In addition to community service projects and activities such as The Dictionary Project, last year the clubs donated more than $160,000 to a variety of local and international organizations. The seven clubs collaborate on a number of community service activities, and recently raised funds for Grassroots in the first annual Soup ‘R’ Sundae. Rotary Clubs have been in Howard County for more than eighty years. For more information visit

Rotary International is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. There are approximately 1.2 million Rotarians who are members of more than 32,000 Rotary clubs in more than 200 countries and geographical areas. For more information visit