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NEA's Read Across America Grants to Boost Local Reading Initiatives

Partnership with Renaissance Dental provides books and funding to NEA state affiliates

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- There's only one event that will get teachers, principals, school employees—even elected officials—to dye their hair blue, cook up a breakfast of green eggs and ham, or be duct-taped to a wall if it boosts their students' enthusiasm to read. Every year, an estimated 45 million readers join the National Education Association (NEA) to celebrate its annual Read Across America Day. Through a continuing partnership with Renaissance Dental, NEA has awarded Read Across America events grants to 18 state affiliates for state and local Read Across America events and activities—all designed to motivate children to develop a love of reading.

From Arkansas to Wyoming and California to Maine, a total of $133,000 was awarded to 18 states in varying grant amounts ranging from $800 to $10,000. The grants provide state affiliates with the funds to purchase books and coordinate reading events with students statewide. Thanks to the generous donation from Renaissance Dental, everyone can be wacky, wild, and read with a child on March 3.

"Our members come up with some Seuss-tastic ideas to motivate schoolchildren to read, but funding isn't always available, especially with tightening school budgets," said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. "We want everyone to be in the company of a good book, and thanks to our partnership with Renaissance Dental, more readers—young and old—will continue to make Read Across America Day the nation's largest reading celebration."  

The partnership between Renaissance Dental and NEA arrived after studies and research found that American students were missing more than 51 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems. Through NEA's Read Across America, 3 million educators are helping to deliver a very important message to students: "2 x 2 + 20 = good oral health and literacy habits." The pledge asks children to brush for two minutes, two times per day, plus read for 20 minutes each day—for  a daily total of 24 minutes, all focused on developing good oral health and reading skills.

"Tooth decay continues to top the charts as the number one most common chronic childhood disease and as a result is causing kids to miss critical instruction time at school," said Rob Mulligan, president and CEO of Renaissance Dental. "Our partnership with NEA's Read Across America provides a national platform for educating children about the importance of good oral health and encouraging teachers to integrate oral health education into their classrooms."

The unique partnership between the nation's largest union of educators and Renaissance Dental also will deliver books, toothbrushes, and other oral health items to students in need during the popular Cat-a-Van Reading Tour, scheduled February 24 through March 14. The reading tour will visit Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi, with additional Seuss-themed events planned from coast to coast on the annual Read Across America Day, Monday, March 3.

Originally created as a one-day event to celebrate the joy of reading, Read Across America, now in its 17th year and sponsored by NEA and Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P., has grown into a nationwide initiative that promotes reading every day. With Dr. Seuss's birthday falling this year on Sunday, March 2, the official Read Across America Day will be celebrated Monday, March 3, enabling schools nationwide to participate in the reading fun.

About NEA
The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at nea.org.

About Renaissance Dental
Renaissance Dental provides quality and affordable dental insurance to organizations and individuals nationwide. Customizable dental options can be designed for groups as small as two enrollees. Renaissance Dental is the flagship product of Renaissance Life & Health Insurance Company of America and Renaissance Health Insurance Company of New York. RenaissanceDental.com.

For more information about NEA's Read Across America, visit nea.org/readacross
To learn more about the link between oral health and literacy, check out http://2min2x.org
Find us on Facebook at facebook.com/neareadacrossamerica
Follow us on twitter at @NEAMedia
Keep up with the conversation with #neareads

See How Seuss is on the Loose this Read Across America Day

Arkansas Education Association                 
The Arkansas Education Association will engage 13 local affiliates in Read Across America celebrations, connecting them with Common Core and the Better Lessons resource. The campaign will culminate in a reading event on March 3 with the Arkansas state legislature. Find out more at aeaonline.org.

Arizona Education Association                     
The Arizona Education Association and the Washington District Education Association will provide school-based event grants for celebrations throughout the school district, located in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Learn more at arizonaea.org.

California Teachers Association                  
A grant awarded to the California Teachers Association will enable the Bakersfield Elementary Teachers Association to hold a downtown block party and celebration for all K–third-grade students, parents, and community members. In Southern California, Walker Elementary School in San Diego will host a two-week Read-A-Thon that will culminate on Read Across America Day when "Literature Comes to Life." The funding will help kids to keep reading on the calendar with goody bags, pencils, books, and so much more. Go to cta.org to learn more.

Illinois Education Association                      
The Illinois Education Association grant will support a "Read Across Bloomington/Normal" reading campaign with reading celebrations throughout Bloomington, Ill. and Normal, Ill. Learn more about IEA's Seuss-tastic events planned at ieanea.org.

Louisiana Association of Educators
The Louisiana Association of Educators grant will enable the state and its locals to hold a Read Across America celebration at a Baton Rouge mall for thousands of students, parents, and community members. Check out the reading excitement underway in the Pelican State by visiting lae.org.

Maine Education Association                      
The Maine Education Association grant will enable the state Association to give a book to every first grader in the state along with reading tips and resources for parents. See where Seuss is on the Loose in Maine at http://maine.nea.org.

Maryland State Education Association       
The Maryland State Education Association grant will support the "Clara Floyd Early Literacy Program" in Maryland's Prince George's County. The event is named after the former president of the MSEA. Learn more at marylandeducators.org.

Mississippi Association of Educators          
The Mississippi Association of Educators grant will support the statewide campaign "The School (or Town) that Reads Together, Leads Together." The campaign will include reading events throughout the state and creation of school-wide reading areas in three elementary schools in the Delta and Southwest Region. Find out more at https://maetoday.nea.org.

Missouri NEA                       
The Missouri NEA grant will help support the Association's very successful "Cat Tracks" statewide reading tour, bringing books and reading joy to schools and communities throughout the state. Check out mnea.org for more information.

New Mexico NEA                                         
The New Mexico NEA grant will support Read Across America events in Las Cruces, Roswell, Belen, Los Lunas, and Farmington. The Associations will send state and local community leaders into local schools and spread resources and information about reading and oral health. See where the reading excitement will be in New Mexico by visiting nea-nm.org.

New York State United Teachers    
The NYSUT grant will enable the state to fund locally-driven Read Across America celebrations in areas with high-need student populations. The funds will be used for books, classroom celebration kits, and resources. Learn more at nysut.org.

North Dakota United            
North Dakota United will use the grant funding to send a statewide "Cat-a-Van" of their own throughout the week of Read Across America with stops in rural schools and low-income areas. The reading RV's will also stop in five Native American Reservations, focusing on reading and teachers' hard work in rural and Reservation Areas. Go to http://ndea.org to learn more.

Oklahoma Education Association
The Read Across America Grant will enable 10 Oklahoma local affiliates to coordinate events in 10 elementary schools to break the Guinness World Record for the "most kids wearing Cat in the Hat hats during a reading event." The events will take place on March 3, Read Across America Day. Check out http://okea.org to see where the Cat will be next.

NEA-Rhode Island                                       
The NEA-Rhode Island grant will support the Association's Read Across America celebration at the Showcase Cinemas in Warwick, R.I. Find out how to get involved in the reading excitement at neari.org

South Carolina Education Association         
The South Carolina Education Association grant will provide books, pencils, bookmarks and reading resources, and radio ads on the importance of reading. Visit thescea.org to learn more.

Virginia Education Association
The Virginia Education Association, together with the Fairfax County Lion's Club, will embark on a collection and donation of used eyeglasses and celebrate reading with a Read Across America city celebration. Go to veanea.org.

Wisconsin Education Association Council
The Wisconsin Education Association Council grant will enable the state Association to focus on Native American and rural communities in the state, with WEAC bus driver members delivering books, hats, bookmarks, and resources to select communities. Learn more about WEAC's Seuss-tastic events planned at weac.org.

Wyoming Education Association      
The Wyoming Education Association will use the grant to conduct a statewide Cat-a-Van tour, hold a reading celebration in the Wyoming state capitol and support local Read Across America events across the state. Go to http://wyoea.org to learn more.

SOURCE National Education Association

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