• June 21, 2017

    Dear Friends,

    The Read & Succeed Book Program needs your help!

    WCSD Volunteer Services is soliciting donations to raise $25,000 to pay for a part-time employee who can manage volunteers who are organizing the books for distribution. Crowdfunding has been set up to accept donations for Read & Succeed at https://www.crowdrise.com/wcsd-read-and-succeed-progam

    For over ten years, the Washoe County School District’s Read & Succeed Book Program has provided local students with hundreds of thousands of free Take-Home books to encourage reading outside of the classroom.  The international research work of Dr. Mariah Evans from the University of Nevada shows that home libraries increase student literacy and education levels. Students especially in need of books include those from second language homes and Children in Transition (homeless).

    The first few years of the Read & Succeed Program were a struggle to obtain books. With the support of the local vender Grassroots Books, we were able to buy pallets of gently used children’s books at a wholesale rate; we can get as many as 4,000 books from a single pallet costing $300. Our program is an all-volunteer structure where workers clean, sort, and package books for distribution to schools. We began community book drives, and provided businesses and organizations with receptacles for employees or customers to donate new or gently used children’s books. Because of our volunteers’ hard work, the program has successfully grown. 

    The Read & Succeed Book Program increased to the point where we now have large book donors that include Better World Books, Savers, and United Cerebral Palsy. We still buy books from Grassroots Books using grants, fundraisers and donations. Those book purchases include special request books such as dictionaries, Spanish bilingual books, special education books, and books for specific grade levels. The Ribeiro Company is helping us by donating warehouse space for book storage and processing.

    Over the last 10 years, we have provided over 750,000 new or gently used books for Washoe County School District students and other community groups including the Boys and Girls Club, the Women and Children’s Center, the Reno Housing Authority Family Site Community Center and many others. To encourage reading during school breaks and the summer, we conduct book distributions before fall, winter, and spring breaks and at the end of the school year. 

    In addition to giving books directly to schools, we also distribute books for students via parents and volunteers at our Read & Succeed Program tutor-training classes. We supply books to give-away at annual school literacy nights and at numerous community events. New this year, we provide Special Education Bus Drivers books to keep in their vehicles for students to read while being transported.

    With the assistance of the Americorps VISTA program, over the last three years, we were able to increase capacity for the book program to provide over 130,000 books a year. This increase is because we were providing a 35-hour VISTA Member to coordinate the book drives, book donations, book distributions, volunteer trainings and volunteers. My federal Americorps funding is ending after this year, which means that I will no longer have a people resource for this wonderful program. We now struggle to keep enough volunteers to keep our book production flowing and meeting increasing demand. With only two other permanent staff, we are unable to cover/manage the two book program locations and the many volunteers and still manage our other eight programs. We cannot function without someone on site to coordinate the book program.  

    What is needed? I am seeking support from the community for book program management volunteers (one day a week), funding for a part-time book program manager ($25,000), other creative ideas or solutions to keep the Read & Succeed Book Program alive. The Washoe County School District has large budget shortages and is not in a position to help at this time. 

    Thank you and please contact me at 775-348-0388 with ideas or opportunities! Lisa-Marie Lightfoot

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