Aurora Dominicans Receive $20,000 Grant
Money to be used for new literacy center books
By Sharon Boehlefeld, Features Editor
August 27, 2020
AURORA—The Dominican Literacy Center here has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the Aurora Women’s Empowerment Foundation (AWEF).
Sister Kathleen Ryan, center director, said, “We’re so grateful for their grant and we’re looking forward to using the new materials.”
Sister Kathleen said this is a new grant being awarded for the first time this year.
“We felt like we fit the parameters of the grant,” she said. “You know, I am always surprised and pleased because I do write a lot of grants.” 
She applied for this grant to  update the center’s textbook.
“Our books are really outdated,” she explained. “They’re from the mid to late 1990s. They have typewriters, not computers.”
Because the aims of immigrant women who are learning English often have to do with preparing to seek jobs, the examples in the books are important. The old books had a few non-traditional roles — a woman pilot, for example — the new books include more 21st century options.
Another plus in the the new books, she said, is “the illustrations are from National Geographic, so they’re gorgeous books. The old books have cartoons.”
The new textbooks have “online options for the students and turors,” she said, “and they teach the way we are accustomed to teaching. Not every book does it, but this (textbook) does it.”
The center plans to begin an online tutoring program in September with tutors and students using the old book.
The new books will be ordered for use next year. In the meantime, “Some staff will start this year to see how it goes,” Sister Kathleen said. “We’re very excited to have it.”
On Aug. 21, Sister Kathleen and DLC staff members met with AWEF representatives..
“They want us to be part of the video to film a tutor and a student together and present the check. I’m excited about meeting them tomorrow,” she said on Aug. 20, adding, “face-to-face with masks.”
The center is located at the St. Joseph Parish campus, 260 Vermont St., in Aurora.
It was founded in 1993 in response to the influx to the Aurora area of immigrant families who needed ESL instruction. 
In providing individual tutoring for immigrant women, the center’s programs give women the opportunity and ability to be full participants in their workplaces, communities and families. 
Since its inception, the center has served thousands of Aurora-area residents
The literacy center program fits perfectly within the framework of the mission of the AWEF to fund programs that help women to increase their economic and personal success.
Sister Kathleen explained the AWEF started out in 1893 as the YWCA.
“In 2018 the board of directors made a decision to shift from a program  organization to funding organization, and (made) the name change,” she said.
AWEF also awarded a grant to the Fox Valley Grantmakers COVID-19 Response Fund. This fund was launched in March as a collaborative effort between the AWEF, Dunham Fund, Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, Fox Valley United Way and INC Board.
Info: Grant applications for 2021 programs will open Sept. 1 and close on Oct. 31. Interested 501c3 organizations operating within the greater Aurora area may be eligible.


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