UNI literacy center receives prestigious Philanthropy Award

August 21, 2014

From left to right: Bruce Rastetter, president of the Board of Regents; Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds; Gov. Terry Branstad; Salli Forbes, director of UNI's Jacobson Center; Staci Friest, Fred Becker Elementary in Waterloo; Mary Herring, associate dean of UNI's College of Education; Laura Jacobsen, Edward White Elementary in Eldridge; Bill Ruud (in back), UNI president.


Early literacy skills are the single most important factor in predicting later academic success. A study by the American Educational Research Association warned a student who can't read at grade level by 3rd grade is four times less likely to graduate by age 19 than a child who does read proficiently by that time. 

That's why the University of Northern Iowa is exceedingly proud to recently be acknowledged for providing excellent literacy programs for both aspiring and lifelong teachers. 

The Richard O. Jacobson Center for Comprehensive Literacy at UNI is the recipient of the 2014 Richard O. Jacobson Philanthropy Award. The award was presented to UNI President Bill Ruud and Jacobson Center Director Salli Forbes at a ceremony on Aug. 2.  Selected by the Jacobson Foundation trustees, the center will receive a $50,000 gift provided by the Foundation and Board of Regents President Bruce Rastetter.

UNI's Jacobson Center works with Iowa schools to improve literacy for all Iowa students. The center provides preparation for literacy coaches in the Partnerships in Comprehensive Literacy model and preparation for Reading Recovery teacher leaders. Both the literacy coaches and Reading Recovery teacher leaders work to improve the teaching expertise and performance of teachers in the schools, which in turn improves literacy achievement for students. 

The goals of the center are to:

  • Close the achievement gap between diverse groups while increasing literacy proficiency for all students
  • Increase teachers' knowledge and instructional expertise through university-supported professional development
  • Support teachers' collaborative monitoring of student progress and instructional decision-making