Developing Early Language & Literacy
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About DELL-D

See also: Contact DELL-D

What is the “ DELL-D” Project?

DELL-D” stands for “Developing Early Language and Literacy in Danville." DELL-D is a 3-year, multi-million dollar project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education through its Early Reading First (ERF) program. We are one of 32 projects funded this year, and the only one funded this year in Illinois!

The overall purpose of Early Reading First is to provide intensive support (professional development, materials, technical assistance) to a small number of early childhood classrooms, with a focus on helping young children learn emergent literacy skills that will later help them to become good readers and to do well in school. The primary focus is children who are at risk for not being as successful as they could be because of family income or other factors that may interfere with their learning or development.

The primary assumption of Early Reading First is that working with teachers to achieve classrooms consistent with what is known from research about the best approaches to early literacy instruction is the best way to improve children’s chances of success in school. Early childhood faculty from the University of Illinois, assisted by DELL-D staff hired through the grant, are providing intensive support and training to teachers in 16 early childhood classes in Danville, and also evaluating the effects of the program on teachers and children. All classes use the TROPHIES emergent literacy curriculum.

DELL-D Goals

DELL-D Staff


Dr. Susan Fowler
Dr. Susan Fowler

Dr. Jeanette McCollum
Dr. Jeanette McCollum



Angel Fettig
Dr. Angel Fettig

Alissa Cohorst
Alissa Cohorst

Sandy Hufford
Sandy Hufford

UIUC Faculty and Project Leaders

Dr. Amy Santos
Dr. Amy Santos

Dr. Tweety Yates
Dr. Tweety Yates

Dr. Micki Ostrosky
Dr. Micki Ostrosky

Master’s Graduate Research Assistant(s):

  • Lori Acree

Doctoral Graduate Research Assistant(s):

DELL -D Coaches:

  • Dot Gee
  • Barb Price
  • Elizabeth Schutte

DELL -D Tutors:


Twelve classrooms (16 classes of children) from four different early childhood programs in Danville participate in the DELL-D Project. Each center operates under the umbrella of a different administrative entity, each representing one of the major service providers of early childhood education in the Danville community. The programs are as follows:

What does the professional development include?

DELL-D staff are providing intensive professional development and on-going in-class Literacy Coaching, all focused on implementing the curriculum and integrating literacy learning throughout the classroom. During the first year, teachers are receiving 50 hours of intensive training through weekend training institutes. Each teacher also receives on-site, weekly technical assistance from a Literacy Coach.

What else?

DELL-D also provides tutoring to small groups of children and to individual children who need more intensive emergent literacy instruction. Tutors work in each classroom twice per week, correlating their lessons with the classroom curriculum. The project also supports a new Family Center, staffed by a Family Liaison who provides multiple opportunities for family education and involvement, targeted toward emergent literacy in children, as well as home visits to families whose children are receiving tutoring. During the summer, DELL-D supports parent-child literacy activities for children who are in 9-month programs.

About Danville

Danville, with a 2005 population of 33,000, is located 35 minutes from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where the DELL-D Project is headquartered, and is the county seat of Vermilion County, population 84,000.

Danville is on an old fur-trading road between Lake Michigan and the South. Irish and Eastern European immigrants, as well as African-Americans, came in the late 1800s to work in the mines. Danville evolved into a vibrant blue-collar community that easily switched from mining to manufacturing. When the large GM plant closed in the 1990s, Danville and Vermilion County went into an economic slide. The 11.3% poverty rate in Illinois in 2002 compares to the county's rate of 14.1%; the 15.3% Illinois child poverty rate compares to 19.3% in Vermilion County.

In 2004-2005, 64% of students in Danville School District 118 were low income. In 3rd grade, only 57% met the Illinois Learning Standards for reading. High school graduation rates that year, at 70.4%, were considerably lower than in Illinois as a whole (87.4%); for low income students, the rate was even lower (53.8%). Teen pregnancy rates, at 16.4% in 2004, have consistently exceeded the state rate (at 9.9%). The K-12 school population of over 6,000 students is 55% Caucasian, 38% African-American, 6% Hispanic and 1% Asian; few (1-2%) are non English-speaking.

The purpose of the DELL-D Project is to make a lasting difference in Danville through working with early childhood teachers to improve the early literacy and language skills of Danville's young children by providing rich, meaningful, intentional literacy and language experiences.