"Tenn Under 10, Powered by PNC" Awards Scholarships to 3rd Graders Overcoming Obstacles to Literacy

Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation’s initiative recognizes 10 third graders as “Little Literacy Leaders” based on their ability to overcome challenges as they learn to read

NASHVILLE, Tenn., May 2, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) announces Tenn Under 10, powered by PNC, an initiative to celebrate and incentivize Tennessee’s youngest learners who have overcome challenges to their literacy development.

GELF is awarding 10 Tennessee children under age 10 with a $1,500 post-secondary education scholarship through a TNStars 529 account. Last month Gov. Bill Lee introduced the inaugural Tenn Under 10 class at GELF’s annual Literacy Alliance dinner.

Tennessee public school districts and elementary schools nominated a student for Tenn Under 10 by submitting an online application on their behalf. The Tenn Under 10 “Little Literacy Leaders” are third grade students from communities across the state who have faced and overcome an obstacle impeding their literacy development, such as lack of access to learning resources, low-income, transitional family environments, language barriers and visual impairments.

Educators from 37 counties, 42 school districts and 90 schools from across the state submitted 143 applications. The final 10 honorees were selected based on criteria evaluating how they exhibit the four values of Tenn Under 10: tenaciously driven, eager to read, noticeably growing and nonstop learner. In addition to the post-secondary education scholarship, each honoree will receive books and resources to support their reading journey as well as recognition as one of GELF’s “Little Literacy Leaders” in their local community. To celebrate locally, representatives from GELF and PNC Bank plan to visit each child’s school this month.

“We are honored to introduce Tenn Under 10 and announce the inaugural class of Little Literacy Leaders,” said James Pond, GELF president. “These children represent what being a Tennessean means. Their stories inspire, motivate, and remind us how important it is to support Tennessee’s youngest learners on their journey from cradle to career, from a third grader to a future teacher, police officer, artist, author or business leader. Our mission to strengthen early literacy is more than books. It’s the future of Tennessee, and we are privileged to celebrate the next generation through the Tenn Under 10 initiative.”

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission reports only 52% of Tennessee’s high school graduates are pursuing post­secondary education upon graduation, a 17% decline since 2017. However, nearly 70% of high school graduates report that they want to attend college or a technical college.

Research shows students with college savings are approximately six times more likely to pursue post-secondary education, three times more likely to attend college and four times more likely to graduate than those without any college savings.

“As a national main street bank, PNC is committed to the communities we serve,” said Mike D. Johnson, PNC regional president for Tennessee. “We know that supporting Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation helps students overcome obstacles to gain access to rewarding careers in science, technology, engineering and math. It’s part of our promise to help everyone move forward financially. We are excited to collaborate with GELF to celebrate the success of our little literacy leaders to help build strong, vibrant communities.”

Tenn Under 10 celebrates resilient students from diverse communities, ethnicities and backgrounds across Tennessee. Click here to meet the 2023 Tenn Under 10 literacy leaders.

“I’m proud of myself for learning to read, and I hope all kids will learn to read, because I love books, and I think they will, too,” said Shanna Hopland, a 2023 Tenn Under 10 Little Literacy Leader from Elizabethton, Tenn.

“I have never gotten a scholarship before and it is good to learn new things by reading and to keep getting better at reading,” said Lyam Tyson, a 2023 Tenn Under 10 Little Literacy Leader from Chattanooga, Tenn.

“Getting this scholarship means that I am working hard in school. It will help me go to college,” said Juan Pablo Mendez, a 2023 Tenn Under 10 Little Literacy Leader from Franklin, Tenn.

Monica Robbins, a Dyer County educator, talked about the positive effect the scholarship has had on Alli, one of her students. “After being introduced and celebrated at GELF’s special event, Alli came back to school eager to share her adventures with her 19 other classmates, but more importantly she came back with a message for them: ‘You can do it too! Never give up, just keep trying like I did!’ Because of this wonderful program and the scholarship provided, Alli will have the opportunity to attend college and continue to be the tenaciously driven, noticeably growing, and nonstop learner she is today.”

Tenn Under 10 is presented by PNC Bank. This will be an annual initiative with nomination applications opening each fall. To learn more or donate to this cause, visit GovernorsFoundation.org.

About PNC Bank
PNC Bank is a member of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.(NYSE: PNC). PNC is one of the largest diversified financial services institutions in the United States, organized around its customers and communities for strong relationships and local delivery of retail and business banking including a full range of lending products; specialized services for corporations and government entities, including corporate banking, real estate finance and asset-based lending; wealth management and asset management. For information about PNC, visit www.pnc.com

About GELF
Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation (GELF) equips Tennessee’s children with books and innovative literacy tools that encourage lifelong learning for a brighter future. GELF is a nonpartisan 501c3 driven by a mission to strengthen early literacy in Tennessee by acting as a thought leader, advisor, and catalyst for programs across the state. These programs include Birth-5 Book Delivery through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, K-3 Home Library, Caregiver Engagement, Book Buses, and Storybook Trails. For more information, visit www.GovernorsFoundation.org.

Contact: Claire Jones
(318) 286-0933

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SOURCE Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation

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