The Rotary Club of Philadelphia’s “Signature Project”
Excerpt from the Philadelphia Rotary Bulletin (December, 2015): One of our nation’s most famous demographers has described the impact of the USA’s persistent very high rate of inequality among children as dependent on “The Accident of Birth.” Being born into poverty—certainly not always… but all too often — sets the stage for failure in life. A recent research study noted dramatic differences between children born into poverty and children born into the middle and upper classes. Between birth and five years of age, the children of the middle and upper classes will have heard 30 million more words spoken to them than the child of poverty parents. This sets the stage for tremendous challenges teachers encounter, including the disparity in skill level of incoming students and how to effectively teach those who are struggling or behind. “Tragically, children from inner city schools who often have the greatest academic needs often receive the least educationally when compared to their suburban neighbors,” said Rotarian Joseph Batory. Wanting to invest in the academic success of these children, Batory introduced The Dictionary Project to Philadelphia Rotarians in 2006. Since then, over 16,000 books have been donated to students in the greater Philadelphia area. This year, project coordinator Matthew Tae helped organize the distribution of over 1,000 books to 20 local schools. The Philadelphia Rotary Club’s dedication and support has helped insure that all students, regardless of social status or family background, receive the benefits of owning a personal dictionary.
Our gifts of books (dictionaries, atlases, thesauruses and library books) and onsite motivational visits to four schools by club members this past fall helped to bridge that gap. Each gift became the property of the child and can be used for many years in their school experiences. Congratulations to Philadelphia Rotary Literacy Chair Matt Tae for leading yet another terrific book distribution project. Joseph Batory, Past President, the Rotary Club of Philadelphia