Fund awards $45K to support early literacy

Published 8:00 pm Friday, June 17, 2022

The Mitchel Perrizo Jr. Leaders are Readers Fund, a designated fund under Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, recently awarded $45,000 to three school districts to support early literacy initiatives.

In 2021, Mike and Tami Hoffman provided a $1 million grant from the Michael J. and Tamara Rae Hoffman Family Charitable Gift Fund to SMIF for the creation of a designated fund dedicated to early literacy. Three school districts in southern Minnesota are eligible on an annual basis for these grants.

The Mitchel Perrizo Jr. Leaders are Readers Fund supports investments in elementary teachers, primarily kindergarten through third grade, allowing them to master literacy fundamentals to transform student learning into a lifetime love of reading and literacy success.

The 2022 Mitchel Perrizo Jr. Leaders are Readers Grant award recipients are:

$15,000 to Blue Earth Area Schools for a reading intervention program that focuses on phonemic awareness, phonics, spelling, vocabulary development, fluency and comprehension.

$15,000 to Maple River Schools for a writing program that also increases reading skills.

$15,000 to United South Central Public Schools to purchase a curriculum which takes a systematic approach to literacy instruction that builds upon prior learning and integrates listening, speaking, reading and writing.

“I am beyond grateful USC was awarded the Mitchel Perrizo Jr. Grant for the 2022-2023 school year,” said Jennifer Taylor, an instructor at USC. “The teaching staff in grades K-6 are excited to implement Lexia Core5 Reading Curriculum, a structured literacy program, so students can become solid readers at a young age so we can meet our goal to make every student a lifelong reader.”

Perrizo was raised on a farm in Delavan. He devoted his life to public service as a state legislator at a young age, then through military service during World War II, followed by a career in various military and diplomatic roles. In addition to his professional roles, he was a mentor to many and always emphasized the importance and value of reading. His nephew, Mike Hoffman, and his wife, Tami Hoffman, both originally from Blue Earth, have established this fund in his honor.