Dollar General Literacy Foundation Awards Grants to Lee

Helen DeVos College of Education, Language and Literature, News

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation recently awarded grants to Lee University’s Helen DeVos College of Education (HDCOE) and the Center for English Language & Literacy (C.E.L.L.).

Dr. Laura Anderson and Dr. Debbie Rosenow, education professors at Lee, received a summer reading grant from the Foundation. With this funding, they held a weeklong reading, writing, and robotics camp for children from ages 1st-6th grade called Mission: Blast-Off. Through a partnership with Tennessee Valley Robotics, students participated in rich robotics, art, and literacy experiences.

“Mission: Blast-Off has been a hit with our campers! It is exciting to see their creativity, problem-solving skills, inquisitiveness, and knowledge shine,” said Rosenow. “We hope this experience will inspire them to chase their passion for learning.”

Campers explored ideas about how robots can help humans to work and survive on the moon or in space. Students read about space, built and coded robots to accomplish missions, and used their knowledge to inspire pieces of art. Receiving the grant enhanced their experience by making it possible to purchase high-quality texts for the children and allowed them to take the materials home with them after the camp ended.

“It is only through partnerships with organizations like Dollar General Literacy and Tennessee Valley Robotics that enable us to provide such rich opportunities for children in the community and our Lee U students,” said Rosenow.

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation also awarded a Family Literacy grant to C.E.L.L., a program which offers classes for all levels of learners, ranging from beginners who have little to no prior English instruction to speakers who are advanced in their knowledge of the English language. The English classes are taught by Lee student instructors who have been professionally trained in the TESOL program.

“The Center for English Language and Literacy is incredibly grateful for the funding provided to our organization through the Dollar General Foundation,” said Dr. Christopher Blake, TESOL program coordinator and C.E.L.L. director. “The timing of this grant support could not be better, especially with the recent arrival of Ukrainian refugees in our community.”

C.E.L.L. will offer a free summer ESL camp for children ages 6-12 in July as well as free summer ESL classes for Ukrainian refugees. According to Blake, the grant money will be used to help pay for the staffing, materials, and resources that are needed to provide literacy and overall ESL instruction to nearly 140 adults and children in the community.

“For nearly 30 years, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has been proud to invest in literacy and education programs in our hometown communities,” said Denine Torr, executive director of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. “The recent and significant shifts in the educational landscape have made the Foundation’s mission more critically important. As we work to create access to high-quality instruction for all individuals, we share our gratitude for the educators who are working to uplift and empower others. We hope these funds will have a meaningful impact on students and teachers across the country and look forward to seeing the positive impact they have on learners.”

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation supports organizations that increase access to educational programming, stimulate and enable innovation in the delivery of educational instruction and inspire a love of reading. Each year, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation awards funds to nonprofit organizations, schools, and libraries within a 15-mile radius of a Dollar General store or distribution center to support adult, family, summer, and youth literacy programs.

Since 1993, the Foundation has awarded more than $216 million in grants, helping more than 15.4 million individuals take their first steps toward literacy, a general education diploma or English proficiency. Cal Turner, Jr. founded the Dollar General Literacy Foundation to honor his grandfather and Dollar General’s co-founder, J.L. Turner, who was functionally illiterate having dropped out of school in the third grade to support his family. The Foundation aims to provide support to schools, libraries and nonprofit organizations that seek to improve adult, summer, youth and family literacy initiatives.

To learn more about the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, visit

For information about C.E.L.L., visit leecell.

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