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NEH Pledges $448,100 to Create Community Reading Programs

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 3, 2017) Press Release — The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) today announced a three-year partnership with Blue Star Families to expand its “Books on Bases” literacy program for military families into a national network of reading-discussion programs that encourage dialog between military and civilian families.

Launched in 2009, Blue Star Families’ Books on Bases program works to improve the quality of life for service members and their families by donating books to military children, base libraries, military-impacted schools, and public libraries. To date the program has placed more than 300,000 books into the hands of military children across the country and on bases overseas, providing military kids with a sense of continuity, safety, and belonging through the magic of reading.

 Now, with $448,100 in funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, to be matched dollar-for-dollar by Blue Star Families, the organization will extend its literacy program, adding two new reading programs called START, which are designed to foster meaningful discussion between military families and their neighbors.

 “The power of great literature is its ability to open up new perspectives on ourselves, our world, and our shared experiences as human beings,” said NEH Acting Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “NEH is proud to partner with Blue Star Families to create literacy programs that will build understanding between members of the military and their civilian neighbors, and create an atmosphere of stability and community for children and military families through reading and discussion.”

 The new START (Serving, Thriving, and Reading Together) programs—one for families and one for adults—will be modeled on other community reading programs supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, such as Primetime Family Reading, and adapted to the needs of Blue Star Families. Family START and Neighbor START will be a series of reading and discussion programs at libraries near military bases, moderated by scholars and experts in literature, community reading, trauma, and psychology. The START discussion programs will involve equal numbers of military and civilian participants, and focus on themes of community, service, diversity, and resiliency. Funding from NEH will enable the creation of START programs for more than 1,000 participants and 15 Blue Star Families chapters.

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