While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way in which public education is being delivered, a strong educational foundation for future success is more important than ever. Studies show that reading makes a big difference in a child's educational achievement. To ensure that area students have access to books during the pandemic, the Esbenshade Advised Fund, administered through the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation & Regional Affiliates (PACF), has awarded a significant grant to Wood County Schools to provide a summer reading program for middle and high school students.

This grant to Wood County Schools complements other major grants awarded by the Esbenshade Advised Fund, Tri-State Roofing and Sheet Metal, The Spartan Foundation, and the Esbenshade Foundation in recent years to support a variety of educational programs benefitting the region. Other programs supported include the ArtCart program in Wood County Schools, a summer reading project for Jefferson Elementary School students in cooperation with Read Aloud West Virginia, and renovations and book purchases at the Vienna and Parkersburg/Wood County Public Libraries. "Reading and education are the cornerstones for future success in life," said Hap Esbenshade. "We support reading and education as a lifelong process for personal growth."

This major grant will enable Wood County Schools to purchase books and distribute them weekly in the summer to middle and high school students through pick-up sites at area schools. "Wood County Schools hopes to promote a reading culture in our schools each day, and we understand that access to reading materials is crucial to our efforts," said Ashlee Beatty, Curriculum Coordinator for Wood County Schools. "Thanks to the generosity of the Esbenshade Advised Fund, students will receive additional reading material. It is our hope that students not only improve their reading abilities, but also fall in love with reading!"

"We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is touching every aspect of our community, and students have been particularly impacted. We are pleased to partner with the Esbenshade Advised Fund to promote reading," said Marian Clowes, PACF's Associate Director for Community Leadership. "We hope that the students are inspired to read throughout the summer."

Further information about the book distribution program will be provided to area students by Wood County Schools beginning in June.