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Barnett Teams with SDPB/Makes $36,000 Contribution to Help Kids Get ‘Ready to Learn'

Barnett Teams with SD Public Broadcasting/Makes $36,000 Contribution to Help Kids Get ‘Ready to Learn’

(Pierre) – Attorney General Mark Barnett teamed with South Dakota Public Broadcasting Executive Director Julie Anderson today to announce the distribution of over $36,000 in legal settlement proceeds to Public Broadcasting’s ‘Ready to Learn’ program. The funds will be used to purchase books for every child in every Head Start program across the state.

"We wanted to make sure this money went to help kids," Barnett said. "I can’t think of a better way to spend this settlement money than to help 4,200 Head Start kids learn to read."

The funds were a result of a legal settlement between 44 states and Toys ‘R’ Us. The lawsuit charged that Toys "R" Us orchestrated illegal agreements among toy manufacturers to restrict or limit the supply of certain popular toys to warehouse clubs. As part of the settlement, South Dakota received approximately $135,000 in cash and toys.

"We are thankful for this chance to give books to these children, who come from families for whom books may be an expensive luxury," said SDPB Executive Director Julie Andersen. "In many cases, these books will be the first ones the children have ever owned."

SDPB currently partners with Head Start to provide free books to children every month with the goal of increasing child-parent reading. Since January 1999, the Ready to Learn project has distributed 8,140 books to children in selected Head Start programs. Today’s grant from Barnett will allow SDPB to reach every South Dakota Head Start program in a distribution scheduled for Spring 2001. The goal is to prepare preschoolers so they enter school "ready to learn."

"We hope these books truly help kids get ready to learn," Barnett said. "I can’t emphasize enough the importance of reading to the ongoing development of children."