The Tarandi Foundation recently made generous gifts to two organizations that support the education and development of young people in Oswego and the surrounding areas.
The foundation recently donated $25,000 to support the Oswego Bookmobile, which currently distributes approximately 5,000 books to 2,000 children in Oswego every summer.
The foundation also established the Sheldon Institute Endowed Fund with a $50,000 gift to support scholarships for youths attending the two-week educational summer enrichment program at SUNY Oswego. The endowed fund will also ensure a more secure source of income for the program. This gift expands on the foundation’s support for the Sheldon Institute, which has received more than $20,000 over the past eight years.
The Oswego College Foundation Inc. will manage the distribution of the funds to both entities.
“The Tarandi Foundation wants these programs to flourish,” said Neelesh Shah, whose parents, the late physicians Ravindra and Manjula Shah, established the foundation. “They are incredible assets to the greater Oswego community and should not be taken for granted. We are hoping that our support provides a launching pad for both of these organizations to continue to build community awareness and generate more programmatic support.”
Getting Books in Children’s Hands
Thousands of Oswego County youth will continue to have access to books over the summer through the Oswego Bookmobile and avoid the “summer setback” in their learning.
“This is a considerable gift for us, and we’re extremely grateful to the Tarandi Foundation,” said Joanie Dain, a literacy specialist with the school district and an original member of the Bookmobile Steering Committee. “Their support over the years has been so generous and has enabled us to do so much—everything from purchasing books to helping pay for gas.”
Bookmobile Steering Committee members said they hope to put the gift toward the purchase of a new bookmobile, which is estimated to cost approximately $170,000.
“The bookmobile provides books to students who may not otherwise have access to them in summer,” said Rameen Mohammadi, associate provost for academic affairs at SUNY Oswego and member of the bookmobile steering committee. “We put books into kids’ hands and help them build their book collection. But they also get worksheets and take-aways that help them reflect on what they read and improve their meta-cognition.”
The bookmobile and school district data show that students who visited the bookmobile over the summer see an increase in their reading level, and the jump was more dramatic for students who receive free lunches (a nearly 20 percent increase) than in those who don’t (just over 5 percent increase).
As important as the measurable gains are, Mohammadi said the students who visit the bookmobile also develop a habit and interest in reading, which will serve them well throughout their lives.
Providing an Early Collegiate Experience for Youth
Every summer for two weeks, hundreds of youth grades 2 through 10 come to the SUNY Oswego campus to explore topics ranging from music, art and dance to science, cooking and history during the Sheldon Institute.
These academic and cultural programs will now be more accessible to lower income students, thanks to an endowed scholarship fund established by the Tarandi Foundation.
“For many of these students, the institute is the first time they’re on a college campus,” said Interim Dean of the School of Education Pam Michel. “Participating in the institute gets them thinking about college and planting that seed for the future.
“From an educational perspective, the institute keeps students’ minds active over summer and encourages students to go deeper into exploring topics that they are passionate about or sometimes to try something that is completely new to them,” she said. “The Tarandi Foundation support is giving more students this possibility.”
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