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Coaches vie for grant

Each click will bring the Dallas County reading coaches one step closer to winning a $250,000 grant. The eight reading coaches, who serve the eight elementary schools of Dallas County, are one of 1,143 project ideas vying for the Pepsi Refresh Grant for April.

“We have to push forward to seek out all revenues to get funding,” said Reading Coordinator Gwen Carrington. “Realistically, we know, we cannot do things without funding.”

Projects compete for grants in the amounts of up to 10 grants at the $5,000 level, 10 grants at the $25,000 level, 10 grants at the $50,000 level and 2 grants at the $250,000 level in categories of health, arts & culture, food & shelter, the planet, neighborhoods and education.

Top voting recipients in each category will be awarded the grant.

Currently, the Dallas County project is ranked 131. They will need to be in the top two to be awarded the funding.

Reading coaches plan to use $90,000 for instructional and assessment materials beyond textbooks, $75,000 for one-on-one and small group tutors, $75,000 for motivational incentives such as books children can take home for personal use and $10,000 for substitutes to alleviate teachers for breaks to meet with consultants to improve professional development of reading instruction and programming.

“We’re trying to encourage children to have that inward desire to improve their reading,” Carrington said. “We work every day to give our students a chance to pick up a book and practice reading.”

PepsiCo Inc. launched the grant contest in January for voting during February and grant distribution in March. The company plans to give away $20 million in grants during 2010.

“The idea is to spark innovative ideas in the community,” said Amanda Burdick, spokeswoman for the Pepsi Refresh Project. “It’s taking ideas from wishful thinking to reality.”

All funding must be used within one year of acceptance and must be used in a U.S. based project.

Prior to sending the grant money, all finalist projects will undergo a verification process to check the credibility of the project by Global Giving, an online marketplace that connects communities with world-changing ideas.

Winners will also receive assistance from two other PepsiCo partners.

GOOD, a collaboration of non-profits, businesses, and people, is responsible for heading the grant process and assist in bringing grantees ideas to life.

Do Something, the largest non-profit teen charity, will provide award winners with ongoing support.

Voting closes April 30. Finalists will be announced May 1. To vote for the Dallas County reading coaches, visit www.refresheverything.com/dallascountycoaches or visit the Dallas County Schools website at www.dallask12.org for a link to voting.