The Maryland SPCA: Build-A-Bear Youth Humane Education Grant
What was the money or product used for?

With the Petfinder Foundation and Build-a-Bear's Youth Humane Education grant in the amount of $3,045, we were able to purchase 240 books to be used in the classroom. Upon completion of the first semester in June 2017 at Westport Academy, located in Baltimore, Maryland, we determined it essential for each child participating to have a book that could be used during class. This allowed our students to follow along with the instructor as they read books that helped to reinforce compassion and kindness towards animals. By enabling children to read with the instructor, we provided a necessary tool to help them improve their overall literacy.

How did this grant help your organization and the pets in your care?

The Maryland SPCA is committed to our mission of improving the lives of pets and people in our community. Our partnership with the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation has provided us with the opportunity to go into schools and reach students from low-income areas of Baltimore City. The Maryland SPCA Humane Education program provides a unique learning environment, where students have the opportunity to practice reading and writing, while also interacting with our animal ambassadors. Most of the children we have encountered over the past year have never had a positive experience with an animal. By bringing our animal ambassadors to them in a controlled and safe environment, we are able to discuss the proper way to interact with them, to care for them, and to go out and be ambassadors for their communities on the proper way to treat animals. Additionally, the children who participate in this program visit our shelter and are able to practice reading to the pets in our care. This is truly a transformative moment in our shelter. A place that can be loud and active quiets down as the children take their places in front each kennel. Our pets truly love the interaction and attention a child provides to them, while the child is able to focus on reading and not worry about what others might think.

How many pets did this grant help?

240 children were helped with the purchase of books.

Please provide a story of one or more specific pets this grant helped.

With a book for every child in every class, it enables them to learn and to help each other in different ways. Our groups in the pre-K classes are learning how to follow along with a story and turn one page at a time. If one student can’t find the right page, others will jump in to help him. Our older students are working on reading fluency and are able to follow along with the text while others are reading. If a student needs assistance with a word, the others are able to assist with pronunciation. This peer-to-peer learning has been transformational in the classroom and would not have been possible without the books secured with support from the Petfinder Foundation and Build-a-Bear.