OSWEGO — Thousands of Oswego County youth will continue to have access to books over the summer and avoid the summer setback in their learning, thanks to the generous support of the Tarandi Foundation.
The Tarandi Foundation recently donated $25,000 to support the Oswego Bookmobile, which currently distributes approximately 5,000 books to 2,000 children in Oswego every summer.
The Oswego College Foundation Inc., at SUNY Oswego will manage the distribution of the funds to the bookmobile.
“This is a considerable gift for us and we’re extremely grateful to the Tarandi Foundation,” said Joanie Dain, a literacy specialist with the Oswego City School District and an original member of the bookmobile steering committee. “Their support over the years has been so generous and has enabled us to do so much — everything from purchasing books to helping pay for gas.”
Bookmobile steering committee members said they hope to put the latest gift toward the purchase of a new bookmobile, which is estimated to cost approximately $170,000.
“The bookmobile provides books to students who may not otherwise have access to them in summer,” said Rameen Mohammadi, associate provost for academic affairs at SUNY Oswego and member of the bookmobile steering committee. “We put books into kids’ hands and help them build their book collection. But they also get worksheets and take-aways that help them reflect on what they read and improve their meta-cognition.”
Promoting early literacy is one of the Tarandi Foundation’s major interests, according to Neelesh Shah, whose parents, the late Ravindra and Manjula Shah, established the foundation.
Shah recalled information from a recent National Education Association conference that a student who can’t read on grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by that time.
Add poverty to the mix and a student is 13 times less likely to graduate on time than his or her proficient, wealthier peer.
“The Oswego Bookmobile not only provides an opportunity for kids to continue working on their reading during summer but gives them free books,” Shah said. “Funding the Oswego Bookmobile was frankly a no-brainer. How can a community not afford to support a program like this?”
The bookmobile targets neighborhoods in the Oswego City School District that have high numbers of students receiving free lunches during the school year, Dain said.
Students’ reading levels and comprehension can drop as much as three to four months over the summer, so that students return to school in September as poorer readers than they were when they left for summer recess in June, Dain added.
But the bookmobile and school district data show that students who visited the bookmobile over the summer actually see an increase in their reading level, and the jump was more dramatic for students who receive free lunches (a nearly 20 percent increase) than in those who do not (just more than 5 percent increase).
As important as the measurable gains, Mohammadi said, is that the students who visit the bookmobile also develop a habit and interest in reading, which will serve them well throughout their lives.
“The Tarandi Foundation wants programs like the Oswego Bookmobile to flourish,” Shah said. “It is an incredible asset to the greater Oswego community and should not be taken for granted.”
For more information about the Oswego Bookmobile, visit www.oswegobookmobile.com
About the Tarandi Foundation
The Tarandi Foundation is a philanthropic organization that was established by the late Oswego physicians Ravindra and Manjula Shah in the early 1990s to support and promote education and community service.
The foundation was named for Tara, Manjula’s mother, and Anandi, Ravindra’s mother.
Their children, Dr. Monica Shah and Neelesh Shah, have carried on the work of the Tarandi Foundation and have made substantial contributions in Oswego County over the past decade to support both literacy and arts education.