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NEA’s Read Across America Grants, Partnership with Renaissance, to Boost Local Reading Initiatives


2/12/2014

WASHINGTON (February 12, 2014)—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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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