Portland students receive free books through literacy nonprofit

The Portland Public Schools recently partnered with Reading Is Fundamental, a national children’s literacy nonprofit, to provide free books to the district’s fourth and fifth graders through RIF’s Books for Ownership program.

Stewart Pleacher displays the free books he chose through a Reading Is Fundamental program, made possible by a grant to nine Portland schools. Contributed

RIF’s Books for Ownership program enables children to select new, age-appropriate books to take home and own and is supported by online resources for parents, educators and local literacy advocates to create a continuous focus on reading.

More than 960 students at nine elementary schools throughout the district benefited from a $9,528 grant from RIF, in partnership with The Bingham Trust and secured by the Foundation for Portland Public Schools.

By providing children with choice and access to books and literacy resources, the Portland Public Schools hopes to create a culture of literacy in its community while working to give each child an opportunity to become a proficient and avid reader.

“Giving students books is a research-based, low-cost way to improve student learning during out-of-school time,” said Portland Public Schools Superintendent Xavier Botana. “We are grateful to the RIF/Bingham Trust Books for Ownership program for recognizing this and working with the Portland Public Schools to make this possible for all of our families.”

Schools participating in the program are Cliff Island School, East End Community School, Lyseth Elementary School, Ocean Avenue Elementary School, Peaks Island Elementary School, Presumpscot Elementary School, Reiche Community School, Riverton Elementary School and Rowe Elementary School. The students were able to select three free books at a book celebration event at each school.

New scholarship benefits CBHS grads

Graduates of Casco Bay High School who attend or are slated to attend Dartmouth College or the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth are now eligible for scholarships through the Philip P. Thompson Jr. Scholarship Fund, established in late 2019 and administered by the Maine Community Foundation.

Thompson, who died in June at the age of 102, grew up in Portland and graduated from Portland High School. He went on to attend Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Medical School. After serving in World War II, he started his own internal medicine practice in Portland, working as a doctor here for more than 50 years.

Thompson became interested in CBHS when a granddaughter became one of the school’s early students. CBHS is the district’s newest high school, founded in 2005. A lead school within the EL Education network, CBHS is recognized as a national leader in project-based and “deeper” learning. It is intentionally small, with fewer than 100 students.

Through Thompson’s bequest of more than $880,000, he established the scholarship to support graduates who are pursuing post-secondary education at Dartmouth College or its affiliated medical school and remain in good academic standing.

Undergraduates may be eligible for awards of up to $25,000 per student per year. Scholarships of up to $50,000 per year are available for students in the medical school.

“We are extremely grateful to the late Dr. Thompson and his family for this generous bequest to help Casco Bay High School graduates make higher education at such a premier school as Dartmouth an option for their future,” CBHS Principal Derek Pierce said. “While this scholarship fund is finite, we do anticipate it will last for years and be able to fund a cohort of CBHS/Dartmouth students.”

There is no formal application form; anyone who is a graduate of the high school and has been accepted to Dartmouth College or the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth can contact Pierce at 874-8160 or [email protected]