Tuesday, August 19, 2014

$14,000 Worth of Textbooks for Red Lake Nation College

We are pleased to donate $14,000 worth of Basic Mathematics textbooks to Red Lake Nation College in the heart of the Anishinaabe nation on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Red Lake, Minnesota.

Thank you to author Steve Slavin for making this donation possible.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Video Highlights of Blueprint for Success Summer Program

Video Highlights of Reader to Reader's summer 2014 Blueprint for Success college preparation course.

The month-long program held in Springfield Massachusetts, combined SAT prep, college matching, financial aid, the application process, and college essay writing into an intensive program designed to help low-income students better prepare for college.

Blueprint for Success was funded in part by the Springfield Public Schools, and John and Elizabeth Armstrong.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Video Highlights of the Navajo Nation Book Drive

A short video on the Navajo Nation Book Drive, which has brought over 120,000 books, hundreds of computers, and thousands of school supplies to every corner of the 27,000 square-mile Navajo Nation

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

17,000 Book on the Way to the Navajo Nation

A hard-working team of Reader to Reader staff, Navajo Nation Library staff, and local volunteers loaded a 26-foot truck with 17,000 books and 24 computers.The truck is now on a 5-day, 2,331 mile journey to the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Arizona. 

The books and computers will be donated to schools and libraries all across the Navajo Nation.

This is Reader to Reader's 7th year partnering with the Navajo Nation Library to bring books to schools and libraries on the Navajo Nation in Arizona and New Mexico.Twice a year, Navajo Nation Library representatives travel to Amherst, Mass. to pick up a truck load of books and drive it back home. 

Last year marked 120,000 books donated, and we continue to build on that number with each new truck load. 

Since 2003, Reader to Reader has donated over $2.5 million-worth of books, hundreds of computers, and thousands of schools supplies to every corner of the 27,000 square-mile Navajo Nation.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Books Make a Difference at the Dad's Make a Difference Celebration

Is there anything better than a bright sunny day and a free book giveaway?

Reader to Reader's Family Literacy Director, Katy Moonan, gave away hundreds of books at the Dad's Make a Difference Celebration in Springfield, Massachusetts.

This book giveaway was made possible through the support of the F.I.S.H. Foundation, Inc. and the Xeric Foundation.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Video Highlights of the 2014 Athena Interactive Literacy Program

Reader to Reader's Athena Interactive Literacy Program works with teen mothers from Holyoke, MA, and combines personal literacy and family literacy with healthy eating and cooking.

A special thank you to Chef Bill Collins and Northfire Recording Studio for their donated services.

The Athena Program is made possible thanks to Florence Savings Bank,  the F.I.S.H. Foundation, Inc., PeoplesBank, and the AEC Trust.

Friday, July 11, 2014


Two years ago, David Mazor dropped me off three hours west of Albuquerque, a mile and a half up in the high desert. It rained that evening. It was quiet, and the air smoldered with the smell of sage. I'd asked David a hundred times that summer what I would do here. He said that I'd find out when I came. I'd listen and I'd know.

To my last day, I couldn't really tell you what my job was. My business cards say "Navajo Nation Outreach Coordinator." I didn't know that I'd:

- witness a dozen students improve their creative writing through our weekly Writers' Workshop meetings and celebrate their progress with a year-end, well-attended CoffeeHaus

- raise average school-wide ACT scores from 25% below NM and AZ state averages to above state and national averages

- watch an endless stream of books and resources from Reader to Reader fill classrooms and libraries

- travel around the Navajo Nation with the Office of the First Lady to deliver college readiness materials and addresses

- work with the incredible board of the Miss Navajo Council, an organization that mobilizes former pageant winners to give back to their communities

- learn to make frybread (poorly)

- watch my freshmen grow in their writing abilities and put together a magazine of their work

- prepare my shyest students for scholarship interviews

- take the Writers' Workshop to hear writing advice and performances by Luci Tapahonso, Navajo Nation Poet Laureate

- see 97% of SMIS' class of 2014 go on to college

- grow to love those seniors like my own siblings

- and be heartbroken to see them go

... and much more.

My last two years with Reader to Reader won't be my last in the Navajo Nation. Through working with Reader to Reader, I've become interested in ethical, efficient management. This fall, I'm headed to the Yale School of Management to get an MBA with a focus on social enterprise and nonprofit management. After my program, I plan to return to the reservation and work on a project to improve food sovereignty. There - now that I've said it, all of you can hold me accountable.

This post is more about me than I would've liked. Still, it's hard to extricate myself from my last two years. On some level, I want to talk strictly about the honor it has been to represent Reader to Reader in what has become my surrogate home, and what more we could watch unfurl and progress. But that wasn't all. It hasn't become a home because of improved statistics and partnerships formed. We shared a mission, and we fought for it, and we grew to love and respect each other because we did our best to listen. After all, that was my first instruction on the job.

The Navajo Nation is often characterized by poverty and hardship, but that's merely one facet of a diamond. I'm learning to listen, and in these last two years, that listening has allowed me to witness the intense dedication and talent of others, and to learn more than I thought possible. Every day, I'm humbled anew.

On my last night, my friends and I slept on the roof of our trailer. We had unexpected company - friends from over the hill. They talked, and we listened. We talked, and they listened. It grew late, and wind rattled the brush. Our dogs howled and took off across the field, and the cows lowed. A mile and a half closer to the stars, am I any closer to hearing supernovae? Three hours west of Albuquerque, does the universe seem silent, or can I incline my heart to the glory of stars being born, of giants rising, of light unceasing to illuminate the darkest corridors?

--Ophelia Hu