To design and implement a literacy music curriculum for the younger students at the Batey Libertad Learning Center.

This music program would serve over 75 children between the ages of four and ten, 85% of whom are non-readers and all of whom read below grade-level. Funds from the grant would be allocated toward purchasing a comprehensive curriculum, purchasing instruments and books, and expanding our teaching staff to allow one teacher to focus on music instruction. Our current teaching staff is comprised of two teachers from the Batey Libertad community and four Americans supported by fellowships. With the Leap Grant we would hire another teacher from Batey Libertad, thus the money would support not just educational opportunities for the students but an employment opportunity for a community resident.

The mission of the Learning Center is to equip students with the language skills necessary for comprehension, critical thinking, and problem solving. Research has shown that music in the classroom promotes school-readiness skills, early language development, and phonemic and phonological awareness while boosting vocabulary acquisition, growing motor skills, and helping reading development (Runfola & Etopio, 2013).

Specifically, when learning a new language, music aids a child with vocabulary learning, listening comprehension, vocalizing, and interpreting the language with movement (Barchers & Bennett 2015). Thus, music offers a multi-sensory learning experience, and one that would be accessible to all students at the Learning Center regardless of how well they communicate in Spanish. Students at the Center exhibit a wide variety of language fluency—the majority of our students are native Haitian Creole speakers and are Spanish-language learners—and music would offer the opportunity for every child to participate equally.