A local group wants to improve student reading comprehension in Benewah County.

Timber Plus is seeking grant money from the Innovia Foundation to help create a literacy program for third grade children throughout Benewah County.

Timber Plus Executive Director Alex Barta said the grant is in the pre-approval process for the grant and that they are still in the early stages of planning.

The group intends to use the grant money to partner with Opening Books Opening Doors (OBOD,) an organization that works with the Innovia Foundation, to form a community program that will help to improve third grade reading proficiency.

“I know Benewah County's (third grade reading proficiency) numbers are low,” Mr. Barta said. “We need county wide support.”

Mr. Barta said that OBOD and the Innovia Foundation works with communities to structure a program that works best with specific community needs.

OBOD works with the school district and the community to create programs that help teachers and parents work with students to reach the goal of 100% third grade reading comprehension in the county.

If approved, the county would seek out a community liaison that would work with the county and OBOD on strategies to get parents and students involved in literacy centered programs.

“The community liaison would act as a point person that would work with the Innovia Foundation,” Mr. Barta said. “They would be the person to go work with clubs or churches that want to put on an event that promotes education. It can be anything to support literacy, even things like book drives.”

Mr. Barta said that though they haven't officially been awarded a grant, they plan on meeting with members of the Innovia Foundation in the coming weeks to work out an action plan.

“Nothing is official or approved yet,” Mr. Barta said, “but we want to get the support of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe and more cities in Benewah County. The more support across the county the more likely this will be successful.”

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