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The Best and the Worst of the Week 

The Bureau of Governmental Research
received two awards at the annual Governmental Research Association conference in Boston. For the second year in a row, BGR won the prize for "Most Effective Education" for producing informative reports on the pitfalls of a property tax incentive, derived from payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) arrangements. BGR also won "Most Distinguished Research" for a two-part report, Mending the Urban Fabric: Blight in New Orleans , a definitive study of blight remediation post-Katrina.

Colleen Carl,
a retired former employee of Scholastic, the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books, recently organized a free book giveaway in the Community Center of St. Bernard. As part of Scholastic's Book Grants Program, volunteers distributed 20,000 new Scholastic paperbacks to 360 families who attended the event. This is the third such book giveaway that Carl has planned in the New Orleans area. To date, she has distributed 70,000 books through the program, and she hopes to make it 100,000 soon.

Niyi Osundare,
a University of New Orleans professor of English, has been named the 2008 Laureate of the Tchicaya U'Tamsi Award for African Poetry. Osundare is originally from Nigeria and is a poet, dramatist, essayist and media columnist. He has written several volumes of poetry, four plays, a book of essays and several articles on literature, language, culture and society. The award is named in honor of Congolese writer Chicaya U Tam'si, who died in 1988 and whose name means "small paper that speaks for a country in Kikongo."

Baptist Community Ministries,
the largest charitable foundation in Louisiana, is awarding $190,000 to the YMCA Educational Services (YES!) program. The program provides free adult literacy tutoring in the metro area. The grant will be awarded over the course of three years and will be used by YES! to help educate the estimated 30 to 35 percent of adult New Orleanians who cannot read. The YES! offices were destroyed by the 2005 levee failures and are now housed in the New Orleans Public Library.

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