$75,000 grant boosts Manchester efforts to teach ‘science of reading’

May 4, 2023, 09:53 AM by Anne Gregory
Manchester University has received a $75,000 planning grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its reading readiness initiative, Advancing the Science of Reading in Indiana.

Stetzel education literacy

NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. – Manchester University has received a $75,000 planning grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its reading readiness initiative, Advancing the Science of Reading in Indiana (ASRI).

MU’s Henney Department of Education is using the grant to examine the methods and experiences it uses to prepare education majors to use evidence-based methods to teach reading as well as to explore opportunities to further expand and increase those efforts.

“Good things are coming out of this. For example, while we have always used scientifically based practices in the teaching of reading, we are being much more intentional about how we talk with our students,” said Professor Heather Schilling, director of teacher education at MU. “We tell them, ‘You are scientists of knowledge,’ because most teacher preparation programs have not articulated the science behind reading.”

So much depends on reading going forward in life, she said, and “brain wiring” is a key component.

Payten Kimmell, Manchester Elementary SchoolThe science of reading refers to a body of research from the fields of education, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology and neuroscience that describes how individuals learn how to read and best practices for reading instruction.

This specific initiative focuses on teacher preparation programs designed to improve the reading skills of K-12 students in Indiana. ASRI aligns with a statewide push by the Indiana Department of Education to improve reading achievement by helping teachers apply proven science of reading methods in their classrooms.

MU education faculty developed the Science of Reading Advisory Council that coordinates school visits to observe instruction in classrooms from pre-K through third grade. The council includes teachers and administrators from Manchester Community Schools, MU education faculty members and an undergraduate education major. Council members collaborate on and investigate how the science of reading can support training and development of teacher candidates.

The Lilly Endowment grant is enabling MU faculty and staff to make site visits to other universities and to school corporations, to attend conferences and take part in training, coaching and curriculum development.

“The Henney Department of Education at Manchester University is thankful to receive the planning grant to consider how we might further incorporate the science of reading into our curriculum and help us equip future generations for reading success,” said Associate Professor Stacy Stetzel, chair of the department. “We are so appreciative of Lilly Endowment for extending this opportunity.”

Cutline information:

  • Associate Professor Stacy Stetzel teaches a literacy class at Manchester University.
  • Senior Payten Kimmell, majoring in early childhood and elementary education, with students at Manchester Elementary School.


Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.

Learn more about the ISRA grant: https://lillyendowment.org/reading/


Manchester University delivers innovative academic and rich, hands-on education to enhance student knowledge, personal growth and develop well-rounded leaders. Our programs, competitive curriculums and accepting environment are just some of the ways we continue to maintain a tradition of success. We strive to bring a wide spectrum of exciting programs across all areas of study to enable students to achieve their professional and personal goals. Manchester also provides rich immersive experiences to give students real-world opportunities. Whether inside or outside the classroom, our skilled faculty and staff are passionate about teaching, mentoring and supporting student success. 

May 2023