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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Reading Connection, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Children & Youth Services, Education, Homeless & Housing, Homeless Centers, Human Services, Literacy, Remedial Reading & Encouragement

Mission: The Reading Connection is dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk children and families by helping them create and sustain literacy-rich environments and motivation for reading. This mission is accomplished by - Volunteers who read aloud to children at shelters and community centers - Donations that provide children with free, new books to keep - Workshops that help parents encourage reading and literacy development - Trainings of family support workers who promote the importance of reading.

Results: In fiscal year 2014, we achieved the following results for our various programs. Read Aloud Volunteers read aloud to children at 12 shelters and community centers throughout Washington DC and Northern Virginia • 518 children participated • 4,837 books distributed • 204 volunteers shared books with children Book Club Enrolled families receive free, new books, ideas to promote family reading, and review forms by mail on a monthly basis • 411 enrolled children • 3,824 books distributed Reading Families Workshops TRC staff and trained volunteers conduct workshops designed to increase parents’ confidence in sharing books with their children • 347 parents reached • 48 workshops held—24 English, 9 Spanish, 16 Bilingual • 1,541 books distributed Literacy Advocates Training TRC staff train agency staff to promote the importance of reading aloud to children in home visits and after school programming to at risk families • 14 participating agencies • 100% of attendees report that they feel more confident talking with parents about sharing books with their children

Target demographics: at-risk children aged 0-18

Direct beneficiaries per year: Read-Aloud program: 518 children, Book Club: 411 children, Reading Families Workshops: 347 parents

Geographic areas served: the Washington D.C. metro area

Programs: reading motivation programs

Donor & Volunteer Advisory

This organization's nonprofit status may have been revoked or it may have merged with another organization or ceased operations.

Community Stories

18 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Just celebrated my two-year anniversary volunteering with the Reading Connection. It's been a fantastic experience reading to kids in conjunction with a local housing agency. TRC has identified dedicated and responsible site leaders for the location at which I volunteer. TRC's Volunteer Central has also been great in terms of helping to plan the Read Aloud sessions. It's a webportal through which you can access information about both prior and upcoming Read Alouds. You can also search for reading roadmaps and past Read Aloud themes to get ideas about books and activities.

TRC's staff has been supportive and communicative, and the time commitment has also been reasonable. I volunteer roughly once a month (but may, in the future, volunteer more frequently) and also spend some time preparing for each Read Aloud, but as mentioned above, TRC has provided tools to make the preparation a lot easier. All in all, just a great experience.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My name is Jennifer Gray, and I am an Assistant Professor of Literacy Education at Marymount University. On July 18, Eileen Hanning of The Reading Connection travelled to Marymount University to present one of her training sessions to a group of graduate students in the Education program.

Not only was Eileen’s presentation wonderfully engaging and informative for the Marymount students, both the content and the process used in the presentation were rooted in scientifically demonstrated best practices. Eileen presented simple, effective ways to develop and teach interactive read-aloud lessons with young students, a vital component of early literacy development (Shanahan et al., 2008.) She also showed students simple, effective methods for integrating literacy across content areas such as science and mathematics.

Throughout the presentation, Eileen introduced new ideas or instructional strategies to the students, modeled the use of the strategies, guided students as they tried to use the strategies themselves, and then gave them time to practice the strategies with their peers. This sequence (introduction, modeling, guided practice, and independent practice) is supported by a large body of research (e.g. Graves, Juel, & Graves 1998) as an effective and engaging method of instruction across a number of disciplines. Unlike other training programs that I have seen that simply present vast amounts of information to participants, the methods used in the training programs offered by The Reading Connection actually allow participants to take ownership of the content being presented and to try the strategies being taught while being supported by the trainer.

The Reading Connection is a wonderful organization that provides research-based, informative, engaging training to help adults support the literacy development of young children. We are so fortunate to have The Reading Connection working in our community!


Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a senior executive with The Boeing Company, and through a pilot program called Skills Based Volunteering, I was matched with The Reading Connection to assist them in creating their first for-fee business model using an opportunity with Arlington County Public Schools. It was my first experience volunteering with a non-profit and I was extremely impressed. The passion with which the entire team delivers their mission is inspirational, but what impressed me most was the acumen the team showed in taking on the for-fee concepts quickly and readily applying them to further advance the TRC vision. This team never waivered from connecting all thought processes back to the community they serve to deliver the highest impact possible while demonstrating the deepest sense of responsibility as the stewards of the contributed resources. I have continued to work with TRC beyond the Boeing program, and feel privileged to do so.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is my first time being a volunteer with The Reading Connection, and I can say this is the most organized volunteer position I've ever been involved with.
i truly believe the children as well as the volunteers are all gaining from the experience.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked in a local homeless shelter for 7 years and during the first couple of years, I was so blown away by the impact The Reading Connection was having on our children living here, that I wanted to learn more about them. By learning more, I was even more impressed and for the past 4 years, I have been a volunteer at another reading site!

I have worked in non-profits my entire 30 year career and can unequivocally say that a more professional, effective and efficient non-profit would be hard to find. They are the entire package! They are committed to providing the opportunity for children to learn to love books; exposing them to reading, books and an entire world of learning! At the same time, they ensure that their volunteers are engaged, trained and well taken care of. I never pass up an opportunity to let others know how proud I am to be a part of TRC and proud of the work that they (and we as volunteers) do to expose children to reading and to ensuring they have their own reading library!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have known the Reading Connection for 5+ years, in several distinct but related capacities. As a children's author, I have done community events with children and families served by the Reading Connection and I have also led volunteer training sessions. In addition, as a Vice President of the literary organization First Book, I have worked with the Reading Connection (and, on occasion, with external corporate partners) to help get books to children in need. At all times, the staff of the Reading Connection has impressed me with their professionalism, knowledge base, and commitment to its mission. The Reading Connection volunteer program is also very well-regarded in the literacy world. I highly recommend the Reading Connection to those seeking to connect with a nonprofit that is well-run and that prioritizes the needs of its volunteers as well as the children it serves.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

The Reading Connection (TRC) is an exciting organization whose mission is developing literacy skills and a love of reading among children in homeless, domestic violence and other shelters. Serving Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax County, Virginia, Montgomery County Maryland and the District of Columbia, TRC has 200 volunteers who read to children in the shelters, a parent-training program and a book club that distributes more than 12,000 books per year for free to at-risk kids. With a small professional staff, TRC is able to leverage its volunteer and donor support to provide services in 15 shelters in the DC Metro area. As a member of the TRC Board of Diretcors, I witnessed first hand the passion and effectiveness of the staff, the dedication of the volunteers and the commitment of the board. TRC, which has been recognized with a variety of awards for its work with children and families, is a wonderful organization doing great work every day.

Review from Guidestar

Christine96

Board Member

Rating: 5

I was a TRC board member for three years and I was amazed at all that this organization accomplishes each year on a tight budget. I believe the success can be attributed to extremely dedicated staff, a well utilized board, and a large pool of dedicated volunteers that are all focused and driven by the mission of providing literacy rich environments to underprivileged children. It was a pleasure fundraising and sharing the the TRC story throughout the DC community. The lives that have been touched by this organization are forever changed.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering here for 15 years. I love working with the children and helping them get excited about reading. The administration is very supportive of the volunteers and being part of The Reading Connection is a truly rewarding experience!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had a great experience volunteering with TRC. Reading aloud with children is fun, and I know it is incredibly valuable for the kids, too. I love seeing kids get excited about the theme or books we're reading, and knowing that we're helping make books a regular part of their life is incredibly rewarding.

TRC has also been great to work with -- very efficient and plenty of support. And as a former reading teacher, I strongly believe in their emphasis on having fun reading and talking about books, rather than pushing kids to always be sounding out words or sticking strictly to the words on the page.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had been wanting to read to kids for a long time and feel very lucky that I found The Reading Connection (TRC). I love TRC! They are so organized and their mission is so relevant and great. They encourage kids to read by sending volunteers to shelters to a) read books about various topics to kids, b) indulge them in activities on the related topics and c) provide books to kids of their choice to read on their own time. Joining the organization is fairly easy. The orientation I attended upon joining was pretty interactive and useful. All the volunteers and the Program Director, Stephanie Berman are so nice and helpful. Even the kids I have met and read to are so nice, eager to read and learn. I joined the organization in July 2014 and have had a great and rewarding experience thus far! I would highly recommend the organization to others! I hope they continue to grow and expand nationwide, especially to the West Coast. They allow volunteers to volunteer in the evenings such as 7pm, which makes it easy and convenient for full time workers.

Volunteer

Rating: 4

They make it extremely easy to volunteer and make an impact in the lives of children.

Chrisi W.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Reading Connection is a great program bringing a love of books and reading to kids in at-risk housing situations.

As a volunteer with the program, I've seen the difference TRC makes in the lives of the children at my read aloud site. Enthusiasm for reading has increased for all the kids, and some of our beginning readers have really improved their reading comprehension and confidence. Our site staff person has even mentioned improved reading scores at school for several of our kids!

The TRC program is focused on reaching out to children who could be in need, before they fall through the cracks, which is so important, especially in this demographic. As a reader, we build relationships with the kids at our site, and get to know them. We act as a consistent, reliable adult that they can count on, when other issues in their life could be less stable.

The resources TRC provides for the volunteers include trainings on behavior, group reading skills, and interacting with children to make reading fun and interesting. Invaluable! They do a great job with every aspect of their program!

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for The Reading Connection for about 10 years. Everyone involved has huge amounts of enthusiasm for the kids and for books. The volunteers go out of their way to make the read-alouds very special and a lot of fun. The most rewarding part is when the kids ask for books by a certain author or on the theme of the read-aloud. It is great when they have trouble choosing from the give away books because there are so many they are interested in. I am sure we are creating readers for life!

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

I served as a volunteer and board member and have been involved for 10 years with The Reading Connection. It's an extremely well-run organization and the staff does a tremendous job of leveraging the board and their extensive volunteer base to make an impact on the community that far exceeds what would be expected based on their budget alone.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

I highly recommend The Reading Connection as a worthy, disciplined, and impactful local non-profit. I served on its Board for 4 years and can personally attest to not only the devotion that its staff and volunteers have to its mission - improving the lives of at-risk children by instilling a love of reading - but also to the care and discipline demonstrated by the Board and staff in using its resources wisely. The Reading Connection has really raised its game in the last few years and in coming years will continue to grow and expand its impact in a sensible and responsible way.

Board Member

Rating: 5

An incredible organization of which I have been a part of for several years in a Board capacity. The Reading Connection does meaningful work in the DC Metro area and addresses an important and worthy cause: bettering the lives of our children.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Reading with children gives them the chance to see that reading is not a chore but a pleasure, not just for children but adults as well. It shows them that if you can read, you can learn about anything, and be anyone you want to be. Reading is a skill not for the moment, or just to get through required schooling, but for their entire lifetime.