Friday, June 17, 2016

Athena Program Reaches Teen Moms

 
Summer truly feels like it's begun at Reader to Reader when we have our annual Athena Interactive Literacy Program, which connects teen mothers from Holyoke's Care Center with community partners to foster empowerment in different areas of their lives. During the year moms work towards their GED at the Care Center, an alternative education program which seeks to "help them grasp how powerful they are, give them the tools to learn and provide them with an exciting and engaging learning environment." These sentiments echo Reader to Reader's own attitudes in our global literacy efforts, and now in its seventh year, Athena is a weeklong program that builds skills to help these young families thrive and learn.

Nutritional literacy is a major component of Athena. Local chef Bill Collins kicks off mornings with breakfast and wraps up afternoons with lunch. Each meal is accompanied with discussions centered around grocery shopping on a budget, balancing the demands of preparing a meal with young children around, simple and quick but nutritious meals, and various cooking tips, tricks, and stories. The moms even get to try their hand at food prep and cooking throughout the week!


Between meals, a range of activities give the moms a chance to express their voices. One of our college interns led a spoken word poetry workshop and later in the week, we took a trip to Northfire Recording Studio for a recording session. This year's selection of poetry include themes of family, love, and motherhood. 

The week's other project, board book making, was filled with laughter, casual discussions, crafting fun, and sweetest of all, sharing baby and toddler photos.

In addition to exploring their creativity, the moms explored financial literacy with Florence Bank and children's book and writing for different audiences with Phantom Tollbooth author Norton Juster. 

It was a week of learning for all involved: the moms themselves, Reader to Reader staff and interns, and the community partners who so generously shared their time and knowledge with us. Fittingly, we closed the week out with a celebration at the Care Center which allowed other Center students and staff a glimpse of what we were up to all week. 

We are so grateful to have been able to spend Athena week with participating moms and we will continue to cheer them on in their aspirations!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Reader to Reader's Dennis Quinn Named 2016 Mass Literacy Champion



Dennis Quinn of the Amherst-based literacy organization Reader to Reader has been named a Mass Literacy Champion by Mass Literacy.

Mass Literacy, a non-profit organization supporting literacy education in Massachusetts, recently announced the six winners of the 2016 Mass Literacy Champions Awards. 

The program publicly recognizes and rewards Massachusetts' educators who have shown exceptional commitment and results through their work in literacy education.

Award winners will receive a $1000 grant for program development and a professionally produced video to promote the work of their organization valued at $1000.

Mass Literacy selected six Mass Literacy Champions, including Springfield resident Dennis Quinn. Dennis is the Director of Mentoring Programs and supervises the Read, Think, Share program for Reader to Reader, which is based in Amherst on the campus of Amherst College.

Read, Think, Share is a web-based initiative that partners students from low-income backgrounds with college student mentors, to improve reading and writing skills and foster a love of reading.

Dennis has grown the program from serving 22 students to over 1,300 in West Springfield, Holyoke, Chicopee and surrounding towns.

For his Mass Literacy Grant project, Quinn will bring the Read, Think, Share program to a brand new school, serving 30 more students. The grant covers all books, supplies and training for the program.

The Mass Literacy Champions Awards program enables literacy providers to share their most promising practices with their peers and serve as ambassadors for literacy. 

Each 2016 Mass Literacy Champion will complete an innovative literacy project that will be shared with the statewide literacy community.  Seventy-six Mass Literacy Champions have been recognized since 2003, and together they represent the diverse literacy community that makes Massachusetts a national leader in education.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Reader to Reader Donates 15,000 New Children's Books to Area Schools


Peter Goonan | pgoonan@repub.com 
Masslive.com

Reader to Reader, a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding literacy and learning, recently launched its annual Spring Book Extravaganza for the planned donation of 15,000 books to schools in the Springfield area.

The organization, based in Amherst, gives away tens of thousands of books annually to schools and outreach program in the region including an annual book giveway to those schools.

The Spring extravaganza is in its sixth year, and began on April 28, with hundreds of boxes of books lining the hallways of Belcher Elementary School in Chicopee, the host site, awaiting pickup by area teachers, according to the organization

As of May 9, a total of 21 schools had come and picked out books for their students and there were still thousands of books available, said David Mazor, the founder of Reader to Reader.

The books are brand new and are available to schools in Springfield, Holyoke, Chicopee and West Springfield, according to Reader to Reader. The books span a wide range of ages and interests and include grade levels pre-K to 12, officials said.

"These books are part of our ongoing support for the Reading Success by 4th Grade Initiative," Mazor said. "Increased access to books is a key factor in raising literacy rates."

"Year after year, Reader to Reader has been an amazing resource for our district," said Samuel Karlin, principal at Belcher School. "We look forward to this great spring book event every year."

Schools interested in picking out books should contact David Mazor at .this website address.

Reader to Reader's Spring Book Extravaganza is sponsored by Chicopee Savings Bank.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Reader to Reader Helps with Literacy Support in Bolivia


KUSIKUY is proud to be partnering with Reader to Reader to bring a free donation of brand new books to the children of Arani, Bolivia.  

Arani knitters will use the books to help improve literacy in their town.

A small colonial town an hour's drive from the city of Cochabamba, Arani has little internet access and is plagued by drought, poverty and migration.

Almost 30% of the town's original 3,500 inhabitants have moved elsewhere in search of jobs and a better livelihood.

However Arani is also the home of one of KUSIKUY's finest knitting groups, La Imillia.

The La Imillia knitters will be the ones directing the book donations and distribution.

In December KUSIKUY will bring more books computers and technical games, to share with local students.

In addition to books for children, Reader to Reader is donating a Spanish-language collection of business marketing books that have been requested in order to help support the educational needs of local entrepreneurs.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Big Thank You From Haiti!


Everyone at Lekòl Kominotè Matènwa (Matènwa Community School) here on the island of Lagonav in Haiti sends a huge "Mèsi anpil!" to Reader to Reader! Thank you so much!

The many French books you donated to our library have been useful, fun, and exciting. The huge French dictionary has been especially useful; students and teachers look up words in it every day. One of our eighth-graders borrowed the book explaining racism for four or five weeks straight, and told me she found it really interesting. And everyone is fascinated by "Des Enfants Comme Moi/Children Just Like Me," a book sharing photos of the lives of children around the world.

Meanwhile, your donation allowing us to buy more books was especially important for us, because we were able to spend the money in Port-au-Prince. Too much of the money sent to Haiti ends up going right back to support companies overseas, but your gift let us support Haitian bookstores, publishers, and even street vendors. It also let us buy books that are relevant to our community, including guides to birds, vegetables, and medicinal plants of Haiti, picture books that take place here, and classics of Haitian literature. We bought 35 beautiful new books in French and Haitian Creole. Only a few are in this photo-- the rest have already been borrowed by eager students and teachers!

We are so grateful for your donations that feed our students' curiosity and imagination.

--Meg Holladay
Matènwa Community School
Haiti

Friday, April 8, 2016

Exploring College Builds College Readiness

Our Explore College with Reader to Reader program gives kids a day on a college campus, as part of our effort to foster college readiness.

Studies show that the more times a child visits a college campus, the higher there chance of going to college.

Recently, we had a wonderful visit from our 6th grade students at Zanetti School in Springfield, Massachusetts! We showed them around the campus of Amherst College, let them explore museums, took them to lunch, and sent them home with lots of new books.

As you can see, reading is contagious!

Friday, March 18, 2016

A Delicious Reader to Reader Fundraising Event Featuring Chef Bill Collins!


Join us at Whole Foods Market in Hadley on Thursday, April 21 at 6:30 p.m. for a delicious fundraising dinner event to benefit Reader to Reader.

For 15 years, Reader to Reader has been dedicated to expanding literacy and learning opportunities for the nation's most chronically underserved and vulnerable communities – with much of its work focused on Holyoke and Springfield.

You can help support this mission in a most delicious way – at an appetizing dinner event hosted by Whole Foods Market in Hadley, with food prepared by personal chef, author, and TV culinary celebrity Chef Bill Collins, who appears weekly on Channel 22's Mass Appeal.

Chef Bill will be demonstrating and serving four tantalizing courses, with accompanying beer and wine tastings, in an evening of equal parts learning, eating, and doing good.

The cost of admission is $75.

To do the most good, bring your check tucked in the pages of a children’s book (new or gently used) that you want to donate! All proceeds will benefit Reader to Reader, and all books will go to at-risk students in local schools.

Advanced reservations are required. Seats are limited, so contact Dennis Quinn at dquinn@readertoreader.org to reserve your space.

Menu:

Appetizers
Cheese/Charcuterie Board
American BBQ Pork Pot Sticker Dumplings

Salad
Simple Asparagus Salad in Parmesan Crisp Cups

Main Course
Pan Seared Scallops with an Orange/Grapefruit/Ginger Reduction Sauce
Rib Eye Steaks with a Red Wine and Bleu Cheese Sauce
Polenta Surprise du Jour

Dessert
Bananas Foster with Vanilla Ice Cream