Saving Lives Through Literacy
Dollar General Literacy Foundation

<p>Read how corporate donors such as the Dollar General are able to help children in Middle Tennessee learn to read</p>

How Dollar General's donation helped Christian learn to read. Featured in Fall 2013 Discovery

If you’re a parent or grandparent and your child or grandchild is unable to read, you know that your child’s future is at stake. A scholarship to the VKC Reading Clinic has made it possible for Jane Morgan’s grandson Christian to learn to read. “It’s his life,” she said.

This Fall, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation provided a $50,000 grant so that students can receive high-quality tutoring at the Reading Clinic and tutors can receive state-of-the-art training. Over 5 years, Dollar General has donated $250,000. Christian is only one of many students receiving scholarships. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation is saving lives.

One Family’s Determination

Christian began 1st grade in a private school, but his teacher recognized that he had learning differences that required more support services than the school could provide and recommended enrollment in their county’s public school system. Morgan describes this as the beginning of their “nightmare.” Christian was not assessed until the last full day of school in his 2nd grade year. In 3rd grade, he was still not learning to read and the extra 30-minute sessions he received twice a week with other students with reading delays were not helping.

“Every day when I took him to school, I felt like I was sending him into the lion’s den,” Morgan said. “He wasn’t getting help there and was suffering.”

Through their pediatrician, the family was referred to the Center for Dyslexia at Middle Tennessee State University, where Christian was found to have “a textbook case of dyslexia.” “That was the very saddest thing,” Morgan said, “how long it took to diagnose.”

Their pediatrician’s second referral was to the Reading Clinic. Before then, the family “had no hope,” Morgan said.

Morgan recalls the day when Christian rejoined her in the Clinic waiting room, and read the sign, “Please turn off your cell phone.” He began reading billboards as they drove, showing by his questions that he not only was reading but comprehending. “I had never heard him read, like some words together,” she said. “It was big.”

The scholarship support made possible by Dollar General’s gift is essential for this family. The family’s home was destroyed in the Nashville flood. Four days after they bought a new home, not yet insured, a fire destroyed it. The grandparents, both retired, now provide a three-generation home for Christian and his mother.

“You have no idea the burden this [scholarship] lifts off our family, because we couldn’t afford the services.”

Christian is now in a private school for children with learning differences. His grandmother drives long distances daily to take him to and from school and the Reading Clinic. In response to a friend who seemed to imply her efforts were excessive, Morgan said, “Would you not drive 1,000 miles a week for your child to receive cancer treatment if you thought you could save his life? It’s the same thing. It’s his life.”

Scholarship Program

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation grant makes tutoring possible for students whose families otherwise could not afford such services. Scholarship support is on a sliding scale related to family income.

“Around 75% to 80% of students enrolled receive some scholarship support” said Elise McMillan, J.D., VKC UCEDD co-director. “A scholarship can be continued for up to six consecutive sessions, providing a great foundation for students to become readers.”


The Reading Clinic uses an evidence-based, direct, systematic, multisensory approach in the one-to-one tutoring sessions. The Clinic serves students from kindergarten through 8th grade, including students with developmental disabilities. The Clinic can be contacted at (615) 936-5118,

“It is because of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation that the Reading Clinic is able to continue providing such an amazing resource to the community,” said McMillan.

Last Updated: 10/1/2009 2:46:23 PM

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