OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill. — During its recent LaundryCares Literacy Summit, the LaundryCares Foundation unveiled a newly minted awards program, which was created to recognize individuals and organizations that have displayed outstanding service and exemplary practice in the promotion of early learning through neighborhood Laundromats.
The inaugural award winners are:
- Outstanding Achievement by a Laundromat Owner: Jane and Scott Wolfe, Wash World, New Orleans
- Outstanding Achievement in Early Literacy Promotion: The Chicago Public Library’s STEAM Team
- Outstanding Achievement in Partnership: The City of Milwaukee and its Office of Early Childhood Initiatives
Wash World Laundromat in New Orleans has been an exemplary model for the Foundation’s Family Read, Play & Learn centers and their potential to provide families access to critical literacy resources, the Foundation says.
“Owner Jane Wolfe has been a true force of nature!” exclaims Dan Naumann, executive vice president of the LaundryCares Foundation. “She has taken the LaundryCares concept to a whole new level.”
Wash World installed a Family Read, Play & Learn kit in June 2019 and has built on additional space to house books, as well as to host story times and even visits from prominent children’s book authors. Its partnership with the New Orleans Public Library also is leading the way toward making sure every child who visits Wash World gets a leg up on early learning and literacy.
“Congratulations and thanks to the Wolfes for showing our industry what it means to truly connect with the community,” adds Brian Wallace, president and CEO of the Coin Laundry Association. “Their example will shine a light on the importance of LaundryCares’ work for years to come.”
The Chicago Public Library and its STEAM Team have been leaders in promoting early literacy in Laundromats for several years.
“Their leadership has paved the way for similar partnerships around the country that improve the lives of thousands of children who enjoy these programs at the local Laundromat,” says Naumann. “This award is well-deserved by everyone associated with the CPL and their innovative outreach efforts.”
The CPL’s STEAM Team is being honored for its creativity and commitment to high-quality programming for young children and families. Bringing high-touch family engagement opportunities to Laundromat programming across Chicago got parents and caregivers more involved, led to language gains for children – and is now considered a national model for effectiveness.
“Congratulations and thanks to all of the dedicated librarians who have poured their talent and heart into this invaluable outreach to kids during regular visits to neighborhood Laundromats,” Wallace says. “These everyday moments, when boosted by book distribution and librarian engagement, have proven to bring children closer to reaching their potential.”
The Foundation says the partnership between the City of Milwaukee and its Office of Early Childhood Initiatives has been nothing short of inspiring.
“As a Milwaukee-area resident, I’ve seen first-hand the positive impact our local partners have had by installing mini-library spaces in Laundromats,” Naumann says. “This is an ideal model of government and business working together to solve a critical problem.”
The unique coming together of city government with the Office of Early Childhood and the Milwaukee Public Library, in partnership with Milwaukee Laundromats, not only brought early learning programs into community Laundromats, but it also scaled the work into family courts and other everyday places.
The City of Milwaukee’s Office of Early Childhood Initiatives works collaboratively to ensure that all Milwaukee children, ages 0 to 3 years old, have access to high-quality learning environments and are prepared for academic, social-emotional and lifelong success.
“Thanks to Mayor Tom Barrett and Dea Wright at the Office of Early Childhood Initiatives, we will see more literacy-rich spaces in everyday places like Laundromats throughout Milwaukee,” Wallace notes. “Laundromats are the perfect venue for reaching children and families with books, story times and engagement with literacy advocates.”