Mission Statement

The goal of this program is to assist all students in becoming good writers, active readers, creative thinkers, and resourceful learners by providing them with their own personal dictionary. The dictionaries are a gift to each student to use at school and at home for years to come. Educators see third grade as the dividing line between learning to read and reading to learn, so we encourage our sponsors to give dictionaries each year to children in the third grade.

Vision

With the support of local sponsors and volunteers, we want to provide a dictionary to every student in the United States. In this way we hope to help them to improve their communication skills and make the most of their education. Many of our sponsors are also taking the Dictionary Project beyond the United States, to help improve literacy worldwide.

The Dictionary Project is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization.

According to the United States’ Internal Revenue Service, an organization is tax-exempt if it is organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes and none of its earnings go to a private individual. In addition, a tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code may not attempt to influence legislation or participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.

 

History

The idea for The Dictionary Project began in 1992 when Annie Plummer of Savannah, Georgia, gave 50 dictionaries to children who attended a school close to her home. Each year she continued to give this gift, raising money to help give more and more books so that in her lifetime she raised enough money to buy 17,000 dictionaries for children in Savannah. Early on, her project attracted the attention of Bonnie Beeferman of Hilton Head, S.C., who began a project of raising money by selling crafts to buy dictionaries for the schoolchildren of Hilton Head and the surrounding communities. By 1995, Bonnie was getting so many requests from local teachers to be included in the project that she wrote a letter to the editor of the Charleston Post and Courier explaining the project and asking for someone to help meet requests from the Charleston area. Mary French, who was already an active school volunteer even though her two children were still of preschool age, read the letter and decided this was a project for her. Starting with a few schools in Charleston and Summerville, she realized quickly that providing dictionaries to all the students in Charleston was going to require serious fundraising. She and her late husband Arno French formed a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Association in 1995, along with a Board of Directors. Arno served as president, Mary became the director of the Association, and The Dictionary Project was born.

Since its implementation in 1995, over 31 million children have received dictionaries because thousands of people saw the same need in communities all over the United States.

The original goal set by the board was to provide dictionaries to all third-grade students in South Carolina every year. This goal was achieved in 1999. After The Wall Street Journal published a story about the project in March 2002, the Dictionary Project took on a national purpose and expanded its mission to include students in the 50 United States. The program is typically implemented in the third grade each year, since this is the age at which dictionary skills are usually taught. Educators describe third grade as the time when a student transitions from learning to read to reading to learn.

The program has been adopted and refined by individuals, businesses, and civic organizations all over the country. Groups such as Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, Elks Lodges, Granges, Lions Clubs, The Republican Federation of Women, Pioneer volunteers, parent organizations, and many more, have implemented The Dictionary Project where they live. Anyone can participate in this project by sponsoring a program to provide dictionaries to children in their community. The dictionaries are a gift for the children to keep. Our sponsors give dictionaries and other reference books to children in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, 9 Canadian provinces, and more than 15 other countries around the world.

Students can use the dictionaries throughout their school careers. Each year we offer a new edition of our dictionary that has been improved by sharing suggestions from teachers, students, and parents with the publisher. These and other ideas we receive from sponsors, students, and teachers are an integral part of this project because they give our Board of Directors direction. Through the Dictionary Project, sponsors can also choose to provide thesauruses, atlases, Spanish/English dictionaries, French/English dictionaries, or vocabulary builders to students in their local schools. The Dictionary Project is funded through donations and sponsors who introduce the program in their local schools. We are a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, registered as a charity in all 50 states. A copy of our tax return and state registration are available upon request.

 

The Dictionary Project Team

Mary French
Director

Mary has a bachelor’s degree in English with a political science minor from Charleston Southern University. She has been the Director of the Dictionary Project since 1995. She has written and published The Dictionary of Wisdom, The Best Dictionary for Students, A Student’s Dictionary, A Student’s Dictionary, Canadian Edition, A Student’s Dictionary & Gazetteer, Canadian Edition, and with the help of Karan and Siddarth Rai, A Student’s Dictionary & Animal Gazetteer. Mary enjoys reading, walking, and traveling. Her favorite thing about her job is listening to people talk about their experiences implementing the Dictionary Project.

Elizabeth Huey
Director of Operations

Elizabeth graduated from Clemson University with a bachelor of science degree in accounting. She worked in public accounting as a CPA for 23 years. She is The Dictionary Project’s Director of Operations. She enjoys reading, travel, gardening, and boating. “I really enjoy getting to talk with sponsors across the U.S., and I love visiting classrooms to distribute dictionaries to students.”

Board of Directors

Portrait
Douglas Boggie
President
Barbara Moushon
Treasurer

Barbara Moushon lives just north of Columbus, GA.  The fall of 2019 marks the 15th year she has spearheaded the Dictionary Project for the 31 public elementary schools in Columbus.  She is the Director of the Certified Literate Community Program for Columbus Technical College and the Executive Director of a local non-profit, Literacy Alliance, where she has been since 2004.  
 
Barbara serves as the President for the Professional Association for Georgia’s Certified Literate Community Program (CLCP) and is the chair for both the Harris County and Stewart County Family Connections. The Certified Literate Community Program (CLCP) and Family Connections are both Georgia initiatives which are designed to facilitate delivering services to improve the quality of life for Georgia residents. She is also involved with the Rotary literacy programs in her district.  Recently Barbara was on the advisory committee for the Georgia Literacy Commission and is currently is on the steering committee for Early Language and Literacy for Columbus’ Talented and Educated People campaign.  Barbara is the only state CLCP director to receive the Georgia Press Association/Barbara Loar award for ‘Excellence in a Certified Literate Community Program’ two times; in 2014 and 2017. 

Sandy Budin
Sandy Budin
Gary Pollmiller
Gary Pollmiller

In his spare time, Gary enjoys attending live concerts and doing some lake fishing for trout or largemouth bass. He was married in 1975 to his darling Terri for 42 years. Gary is devoted to spending time with his two children, their spouses and his three fine grandsons.

By profession, Gary Pollmiller is a retired Commercial Fine Art and Product Photographer following a fulfilling and rewarding 40-year career.

Rotary Club of Parsons, Kansas:
Gary joined the Rotary Club of Parsons, Kansas on May 1, 1988 and served as the club’s newsletter editor; as his club’s Secretary for 11 years; and as the Club’s President for the 2003-2004 Rotary year. He serves as the chair of his club’s Dictionary Project from 2001-current.

Rotary District 6110:
Pollmiller has served as an Assistant Governor, representing six District Governors. In 2001, he began service as the Kansas representative for District 6110’s Dictionary Project, under the committee chairmanship of Stanley Dixon. In March of 2006, Gary became committee chair of the District 6110 Literacy/Dictionary Project and continues today.

He was on the Board of Directors of the Medical Supplies Network, Inc. from 2011-2015, another worthwhile international project of District 6110.

Gary is a Sustaining Rotary Foundation donor, Rotary Benefactor and is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow.

Community involvement:

Believing that a community is only as good as what one puts into it, Gary Pollmiller has been very active in his church family, his children’s educational organizations, and in community organizations.

In 1989, with a goal to bring the “thrill of live performance” to the Parsons community, he helped found the Parsons Area Concert Association as a charter board member, and served for 25 years, serving in offices of president and publicity chair.

Since 1983, “Santa Gary” has annually visited elementary school classrooms, the Parsons Public Library and private homes in his ‘ministry’ of listening to children’s dreams with his portrayal of the jolly old elf.