Reading is FUNdamental or RIF has a simple, but important vision. They want to see the day when every kid in America has easy access to books and reading materials and they want them to experience the smiles and development that reading brings. This is a very important program as almost 2/3 of low-income families in the US don’t own any books that their children can read. This is something that they’re looking to change and their Books for Keeps program is a good start, as 60,000 new books were given out to 20,000 kids. This organization has a lot of other programs being the largest non-profit organization that tackles kids’ literacy in the US. Check out this post to know more.
What is your organization’s name?
Reading Is FUNdamental (RIF) Pittsburgh
What is your name and what is your affiliation with the organization?
Kathryn Heffernan. I am the Program and Development Associate.
How / why did your organization start? (Background, History)
RIF Pittsburgh is an independent affiliate of Reading Is Fundamental, Inc., the oldest and largest children’s and family nonprofit literacy organization in the United States. We were founded by Northside resident, Marirose Radelet, to help increase reading opportunities available to economically disadvantaged children in the community. Today, we serve over 100 sites in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. Last year, we served over 20,000 children in our community by providing them with over 60,000 books and conducting motivational reading activities.
What is your organization’s objective? (What does it do?)
Our mission is to provide children with the resources, motivation and opportunities to develop a life-long love of reading. We work with over 100 schools, community centers, afterschool programs and libraries to provide quality literacy resources to the at-risk children in our community.
How long has the organization been around?
We were founded in 1981, so 2011 marks our 30th year.
What kind of events / activities does your organization do?
Our oldest and largest program, Books for Keeps, provides more than 60,000 new, self-selected books to over 20,000 children. As part of this program, children at our 100 sites participate in 3-5 Reading Celebrations each year where they engage in interactive, motivational literacy activities and get to choose a new, age-appropriate book to take home and keep. It’s hard to imagine, but many of these children receive their first, and sometimes only, books from RIF Pittsburgh. Last year, we also piloted customized math and science Books for Keeps programs in a select number of our sites that incorporated math and science activities into our Reading Celebrations. We are excited to be continuing this program again this year!
Our Read to Your Family program designed to engage parents and caregivers in their children’s reading development and encourage children to become proficient readers. Each time a child reads a book at home with his/her family, he/she receives recognition in school from teachers and principals. This program also provides incentives for students to reach the Pittsburgh Public Schools’ 25 book reading goal, including educational games, books, or gift certificates to local book stores.
Finally, this year following the closure of Beginning with Books, one of our region’s leading literacy organizations and our key partner, RIF Pittsburgh took over the successful Everybody Wins! and Storymobile programs. Everybody Wins! is a lunchtime literacy and mentoring program that pairs elementary school students with volunteers from local companies and other community organizations to share lunch, conversation, and good books. The Storymobiles are libraries-on-wheels; bringing stories, activities, books, and parenting resources to public housing communities and childcare homes and centers throughout the greater Pittsburgh region. These two new programs both complement and supplement our existing programming, and are allowing us to deepen our impact on the children that we serve.
How can people get in touch with your organization (or you)? (website, email, telephone etc)
Our website (www.rifpittsburgh.org) is a great place to start if you want to learn more about RIF Pittsburgh. To get in touch, people can send an email through the website, or call or email our offices. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Any messages to Greater Pittsburgh?
We are so fortunate to have the community’s support as we work to fulfill our mission and reduce the literacy gap in our community.