Dollar General Literacy Foundation awards Youth Literacy grant to VKC Reading Clinic

Mom and son at Reading Clinic

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded a $40,000 Youth Literacy grant to the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC) Reading Clinic to provide partial and full scholarships to families of children who would not otherwise be able to afford clinic services.

Elise McMillan, J.D.

“This is the tenth gift that our Reading Clinic has been awarded from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, now totaling gifts of $490,000—a truly extraordinary level of support,” said Elise McMillan, J.D., co-director of the VKC University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, VKC director of Community Engagement and Public Policy, and senior lecturer in Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences.

“Dollar General believes that everyone deserves an equal opportunity for a basic education, and that reading is a foundational skill. Through Dollar General’s long-term support of the Reading Clinic, they have given so many children the gift of the ability to read, including children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Laurie Cutting, Ph.D.

“The Foundation’s gift truly makes a critical difference,” said Laurie Cutting, Ph.D., Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Special Education and faculty director of the Reading Clinic. “It allows so many children to overcome reading difficulty through our one-to-one tutoring.”

The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Reading Clinic provides intensive, individualized tutoring using assessment and instructional methods proven by research to promote reading. It serves children in grades K through 8. Students enrolled are from Davidson County and five other Middle Tennessee counties.

The Reading Clinic emphasizes helping children with reading difficulties make maximal gains in reading. Students receive non-diagnostic entrance testing for placement purposes and student progress is monitored so that the instructional program can be individually tailored to each student’s needs.

A second goal of the Reading Clinic is to train future and current teachers in the best practices of educating struggling readers. Approximately 60 teachers and future teachers are trained each year.

“The Clinic functions as a learning lab both for pre-service teachers-in-training and working teachers from our community,” McMillan said. “As they conduct the individual sessions with students, these future and current teachers are practicing and refining research-based reading techniques that can then be implemented in communities in Nashville, Middle Tennessee, and beyond.”

The Reading Clinic has two cohorts of tutors. Thirty of Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education students who are pursuing a course of study in education and special education do at least one semester of tutoring in the Reading Clinic. Additionally, area public and private school teachers work with students in the clinic. They tutor children in the afternoons during the school year.

For information about the Vanderbilt Kennedy Reading Clinic, contact 615-936-5118,

Jan Rosemergy is VKC director of Communication and Dissemination.

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