Southwest Florida EducationWorks
Charlotte, Collier, Glades, Hendry and Lee Counties

The ELLM Story

“People often think of the Naples Children and Education Foundation as the ‘Wine Festival.’ We think of NCEF as people who have lived ‘Yes, we can’ long before the phrase became popular. About 11 years ago, the unmet and urgent need for early literacy in Collier County was recognized. FGCU partnered with the NCEF to fill the gap. Since that time, NCEF trustees and staff have been actively involved in ELLM (Early Literacy and Learning Model) and its related projects. We admire and appreciate their deep commitment to leveraging resources and framing collaborations to dramatically improve services and change the futures of children with huge challenges.”

Pat Riley, Executive Director:


Early Literacy and Learning Model (ELLM)
  • Designed to meet the unique learning needs of at-risk pre-school children (typically, 4 years old).
  • Provides monthly literacy units (lessons and materials) and furnishes each classroom with lending libraries and literacy related activities, posters, and design.
  • Employs literacy coaches to work with teachers in their own classrooms to model lessons, provide coaching, and tailor instructional strategies and materials to the particular needs of that classroom’s students.
  • Developed a support program called Wings on Words (WOW) for English Language Learners (ELL) to address the early literacy needs of the many ELLM children who do not speak English.
  • Offers WOW students the opportunity to learn literacy skills while learning the English language by providing books, instruction and related support in their native language.

ELLM is an excellent example of what collaborative efforts can do. There is no building, board, or large organization for ELLM. It exists because of significant contributions and leveraging of its major partners:  NCEF, FGCU, and Collier County Schools.

  • Because of the investment, there is now a unique program to address the needs of English Language Learners – who now learn English and literacy skills.
  • Because of the investment, there is a related program called SEEDS utilizing volunteer mentors to work with small groups of ELLM students.
  • Because of the investment, there is a local chapter of First Book, which has provided approximately 36,000 books to Collier’s children of poverty.
  • Because of the investment, ELLM has created an unprecedented collaboration among public and private pre-K providers throughout Collier County focused on high quality literacy instruction, training, ideas and resources to prepare at-risk 4 year old for school success.