Valparaiso University Awarded Grant to Improve Reading Instruction

Professor helping student

June 26, 2023 – Valparaiso, Indiana – Valparaiso University has been selected to receive a 3-year, $750,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to improve literacy instruction in Indiana. Lilly Endowment made the grant through its initiative, Advancing Science of Reading in Indiana (ASRI). The aim of the initiative is to enhance the use of evidence-based tools and methods to improve reading instruction for K-12 students in Indiana. This implementation grant follows a $75,000 planning grant awarded in January. 

In the past three years, we have redesigned our elementary education program to align with Science of Reading and Evidence-based practices, so this new implementation grant is an extension of the great work we are already doing,” said Benjamin Boche, Ph.D., assistant professor of education at Valparaiso University. “We have also spent the past several years creating strong partnerships with local area schools to host our undergraduate pre-service teachers in their classrooms, and this new grant will continue this great work.

Valparaiso University used the majority of planning funds to design the Center for Literacy. The implementation grant will help the university bring the center to life. Located in Wesemann Hall, the Center will serve as a centralized resource for undergraduate students, Transition to Teaching students and current educators who train or mentor future teachers. It will focus on the Science of Reading — a set of extensively researched teaching practices that have proven to be highly effective in literacy education. The funding from the more recent implementation grant will largely be used to fund the ongoing operation of the Center, which will include micro-teaching labs where students can practice and receive feedback as they refine their ability to teach using methods aligned with the Science of Reading. 

Wesemann Hall

Additional funding will be used to provide in-service teacher stipends while they host Valparaiso University students in their classrooms, curriculum support for the undergraduate program, enhancements to the children’s literature library, and other program materials. 

According to Professor Boche, using the money to enhance the understanding of Science of Reading for Valparaiso University students will have a significant impact on education in the region.

“When our students graduate, many of them stay in the area, so this is about supporting the region by strengthening the education of its young students,” Professor Boche says.

The implementation grant will run through July 31, 2026. Partner schools will be given further information regarding specific plans in August. For more information on the planning grant preceding this funding, click here. To find out more about Valparaiso University’s education program, visit