Butler University has received a grant of $748,616 from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its initiative, Advancing the Science of Reading in Indiana. The grant will support Science of Reading (SoR)-aligned curricular and professional development opportunities for Butler College of Education (COE) students and faculty, as well as staff and educators at James Whitcomb Riley IPS School #43 (JWR) and the Martin Luther King Community Center (MLK Center). Through an innovative and collaborative community approach to literacy, the grant will help to prepare current and future educators in culturally inclusive strategies and SoR-aligned methods for reading instruction. 

Butler University is one of 28 Indiana colleges and universities that received grants from Lilly Endowment to support efforts that integrate Science of Reading-aligned principles into teacher preparation programs. 

 “We appreciate the tremendous support provided by Lilly Endowment to help Butler University enhance its preparation of educators who will work with young readers across Indiana,” Brooke Kandel, Dean of Butler’s College of Education, said. 

 The grant will provide significant professional development funding for COE faculty and support for curriculum development needs, such as the purchase of SoR-aligned instructional and assessment materials. The grant will also enable Butler faculty and students to support young readers in the Butler-Tarkington community through robust field experience partnerships with JWR and the MLK Center. 

 In particular, Butler will hire a master practitioner and family engagement specialist to work with Butler students and faculty in collaboration with the MLK Center’s staff and JWR educators. The master practitioner model has been implemented successfully by the COE at other sites and will equip community partners to support SoR-aligned approaches to reading with children and families in the community. 

“It is imperative that more of Indiana’s elementary students learn to read proficiently, and it is essential that current teachers and the next generation of teachers are prepared to use proven principles to teach reading in their classrooms,” Ted Maple, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education, said. “We are pleased therefore to help Indiana colleges and universities strengthen the use of these research-based principles to teach reading in their teacher preparation programs.” 

Lilly Endowment launched the Advancing the Science of Reading in Indiana initiative in 2022. It complements a statewide effort undertaken in 2022 by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) to improve reading achievement in K-12 schools by helping current teachers implement Science of Reading-aligned principles in their classrooms. In 2022, the Endowment made a $60 million grant to the IDOE to support that work with school districts and teachers across Indiana. 

“On behalf of Butler University, I am grateful to Lilly Endowment for its investment in improving literacy in Indiana through this grant to support current and future educators in our College of Education,” Butler President James Danko said. “With the help of our community partners, this grant will have an immediate impact on reading instruction for children in Butler-Tarkington and a long-term impact on the many students who will benefit from the reading instruction provided by our COE graduates in the years to come.”