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2010 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Reading to Kids

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Literacy, Philanthropy, Primary & Elementary Schools, Remedial Reading & Encouragement, Voluntarism Promotion

Mission: Reading to Kids is a grassroots organization dedicated to inspiring underserved children with a love of reading, thereby enriching their lives and opportunities for future success. Reading to Kids organizes monthly reading clubs on the second Saturday of each month at elementary schools in the downtown Los Angeles area. Pairs of volunteer readers read to small groups of elementary school children in a fun environment. The reading clubs run from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Teachers provide guidance throughout the morning. To volunteer at our next reading clubs, please visit www.readingtokids.org where you'll need to register and RSVP. For more information, please feel free to e-mail us at info@readingtokids.org or call (310) 479-7455.

Results: From a start of only 8 volunteers reading to 20 children at one school in May 1999, Reading to Kids has grown to an average of 370 volunteers reading to an average of 830 children at seven schools every month. Since the organization began, more than 134,000 books have been donated to students attending our reading clubs, and more than 24,000 hardcover books have been donated to school libraries.

Target demographics: Underserved elementary school children and their families in the Los Angeles area

Geographic areas served: Los Angeles

Programs: Reading to Kids gathers on average 830 children and 370 volunteers at reading clubs on the second Saturday of every month at seven Los Angeles elementary schools. At the monthly reading clubs, pairs of volunteers read aloud to small groups of children, while their parents receive training on how to encourage their children to read at home. Kids, parents, teachers, and school libraries receive book donations at the end of the reading clubs. These are important donations, as 60 percent of low-income homes do not have age-appropriate reading materials for children.

Community Stories

16 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Tamiruth

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteer monthly and have a great experience with the other volunteers as well as the kids. It's so simple, but can make a big difference in their life, plus the kids get to bring home a book each month.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a Reading to Kids volunteer for over seven years. Reading to Kids is an organization dedicated to giving under-served children a love of reading. On the second Saturday of every month adult volunteers read to elementary school children and work on book-related crafts with them; the organization holds a brief orientation for new volunteers the same morning of the reading clubs. Volunteers sign-up online and have to complete a quick one-time online application. All volunteers are assigned a partner (you can also request a partner if one of you has volunteered at least once) and you have some time for you(s) to plan your time with the students. Almost everything in this organization is based on volunteering and people making small sacrifices for the greater good. Adult volunteers not only read to the children, but after a few times they can be involved in almost every aspect of the organization: writing grants, organizing fundraising events, such as silent auctions, marketing the organization, maintaining the website, and recruiting volunteers. The volunteers that are unable to donate their time to help run Reading to Kids are able to read to the students only when the volunteers can spare the time, i.e. they are not beholden to be there every month. A natural outcome of this flexibility is the professional diversity among volunteers. Reading to Kids volunteers include teachers, chefs, doctors, (public and private sector) lawyers, business professionals, real estate investors, and college and graduate students; I am an engineer and entrepreneur. Two other groups of people also volunteer to give the students a love of reading. School teachers and administrators commit their time to help run operations during the reading clubs and also help promote the program to students and their parents. The last group is the students and their families. No student is forced to be in the program, at least by no one outside their family. Though the students are given free prize books for attending, the number of students that attend month after month is a testament to the joy the students receive from the activities. I am a volunteer reader and I also help with preparing prizes for students which are raffled-off a couple of times a year. I also had volunteer roles as a Site Coordinator (someone who helps run operations at the reading clubs, in lieu of reading certain months) and a member of Strategic Planning Committee. Given that I am an engineer in a large corporation Reading to Kids allows me, and other volunteers, the ability to see the direct fruits of their labor and the joy on the customers' [students'] faces. Also, I have been able to take on leadership roles and partake in the building and running of an organization. The only downside I have experienced during the reading clubs is that once in a blue moon I am assigned a partner where our thoughts on how best to interact with the students are very out of sync. In terms of being an active volunteer, it can feel like a job sometimes, depending on your role, and it's been frustrating to see the slow growth in the last several years, though part of the holdup is the economy. For potential volunteers I recommend volunteering at least twice to see before saying you will volunteer on a more regular basis. For potential donors/investors, I think it is a testament that many volunteers dedicate extra time to run the organization and also directly help give under-served children a love of reading.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

If someone would have told me that being layed-off from my job could be so rewarding I would have told them that they were out of their minds. But it is true. For me that reward is having the opportunity of being a part of "Reading to Kids" Reading to Kids simply put is an amazing and inspirational organization. An organization that is dedicated to inspiring underserved children with a love of reading thereby enriching their lives and opportunities for future success. But the effect of this program is not just felt by the kids. It's effect is felt by the volunteers, the parents, and the teachers. I have since found a new job and my time is not as free as it was when I was unemployed but I have found that I have become more involved with the organization because IT WORKS. It works at all levels and is exciting to see what the program can do for the kids.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I somehow got roped into this five years ago, thinking it would be a good way to meet girls and appear selfless. Then it turned out that I really am selfless! And this group was the perfect way to actualize my selflessness. In addition to being one of the easiest groups to volunteer with, I've found that I love the kids and the results are real. Everything is organized from the ground up, and we all work together to improve the organization and help our city.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Reading to Kids is one of the most well-organized volunteer activities. The staff and volunteer coordinators take very good care of their volunteers. This makes volunteers able to focus on the kids and really enjoy their time.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I adore Reading To Kids. Having lived in LA for a few years now, I searched a long time to find an organization that seemed worthwhile and could fit into my schedule. Initially, those that did also wanted a hefty volunteer fee. Then I found R2K. The volunteer coordinators are amazing - so dedicated and friendly. The operation runs so smoothly, and I love meeting the other volunteers as well. Of course, though, the best part is the kids. They are so fun and energetic! Volunteering for Reading To Kids is always the highlight of my month. Two huge thumbs up!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I really love the Reading to Kids Organization. This is a wonderful program that is currently in 9 'underserved' schools in the LA area. Volunteers read to kids in grades K-5, work on language skills, do a craft, and every single child goes home with a book. The timing is perfect and consistent, the 2nd Saturday of every month, and I appreciate that. They get hundreds of children to come in and, here's the secret, fulfill my life! I never cease to be amazed at the children, the volunteers and the experience. Truly, I would pay them for the opportunity just to be able to do this!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Reading to Kids for almost three years now and it has been an incredibly rewarding experience. It is a very easy way to fit volunteering into my busy schedule since it is only a few hours once a month on Saturday mornings. It is truly inspiring to see how these kids get excited about reading and to see other volunteers in Los Angeles getting to know one another. I highly recommend R2Ks for anyone in the LA-area.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A friend told me about Reading to Kids about 6 years ago and it sounded like a great, low commitment way to get involved with the community. Of course, once I attended my first reading club and experienced the magic of inspiring LA's youth, I was hooked. Several friends have become volunteers because of my love for the organization. My involvement has increased over the years because I have personally seen the impact this group makes.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I first became aware of Reading to Kids several years ago when they applied for a grant from an organization I was involved with. I'd been sent to do a review and report back. I was impressed to see a couple hundred students dressed in their school t-shirts or good school clothes coming out to a reading event on a Saturday morning. When I was their age, I was home watching cartoons on Saturday morning. The group has since grown from two elementary schools in the downtown Pico/Union area, to eight schools. Volunteer slots for this organization fill up quickly because it is such a fun and rewarding way to spend a few hours a month. We read, do arts and crafts, and most importantly, have conversations with the children to improve their English language skills. If they had additional funding, Reading to Kids could take advantage of their large volunteer pool and spread this excellent program to more elementary schools.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This group is the epitome of the old adage: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. From the moment I arrived at my first volunteer event, I was impressed. The organizers, volunteers, school administration personnel, and especially the parents and kids participating were absolutely wonderful! Everyone was welcoming, engaged and gave me a reason to return. Due to their commitment, I have recruited others within my organization to donate time and we have even obtained a financial contribution from our company. Everyone I introduce to this volunteer effort has had the same feedback..."Wow, this is really a great way to spend a Saturday morning"! I agree whole heartedly. The children steal your heart and the organization makes it easy to follow it.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering with Reading to Kids as part of a college group, but have been returning off and on since 2001. It's super flexible because you sign up for the months you are free, but every time you go you can see what an impact it makes with each of the kids, especially when you come back month after month and the kids know you are really there for them. It is amazing to make a positive difference in just a few hours once a month!

Volunteer

Rating: 4

I so enjoy Reading to Kids! After I moved back to LA, I was searching for a community service program to get involved in regularly. I searched all over the internet and I happened upon the Reading to Kids site. I signed up for the following month's reading club and the rest was history. I started as a volunteer reader and after a year, I choose to take more of an active role as a site coordinator. I love the group of people I see every month. I never regret my time spent on that Saturday with the volunteers and the kids. I hope that more people find out about the Reading to Kids and sign up!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Reading to kids is great, you literally read books to kids and then do a craft with the kids to further expand on the story, themes and messages. The kids are great, the volunteers are great, the organization is great

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Reading to Kids is a simple concept - spend some time reading to a small group of elementary school children then give them free books. But the effect is powerful both for the kids and the volunteers. The kids are developing a love for reading that will serve them throughout their lives. The volunteers are making a difference in an underserved part of the city. It's a win-win proposition. At my job, we talk about the WIIFMs - what's in it for me. So let's talk about the WIIFMs for Reading to Kids. What's In It For The Kids o A free book. Even if they wanted to read at home, most of them have no age-appropriate reading material there. One of the teachers at the school where I volunteer said that she taught migrants in the Central Valley and they had more reading material in their homes than her kids do. o A fun experience with reading. Another teacher told me that No Child Left Behind has squeezed all the fun out of reading during the school day. o A more stimulating experience than video games or Saturday cartoons. o Occasional special events that complement the monthly theme like musical performances, magicians and visits from Santa Claus. o A chance to hang out with cool volunteers. What's In It For Volunteers o A chance to make a difference (even a small one) in a child's life. o The glow of children's smiles. o Observing the wonderment of discovery as kids get into the book and the story. o Lots of warm fuzzy or laugh out loud funny moments. o Maybe a special handmade card or present from the kids. o Maybe some exercise from dancing the hokey-pokey or playing duck duck goose. o Breakfast (often with Starbucks coffee) and munchies at lunch. o A chance to hang out with cool volunteers. All of this can be yours for low low price of three hours on one Saturday morning a month. We call that great return on investment.

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The “easy,” but valuable volunteer experience … I have been a reading to kids volunteer for two years, and this is my first review on great non profits. I joined reading to kids as part of a new year’s resolution to contribute more to the community. I enrolled on the website and was given clear directions to the school. I arrived on Saturday morning, I went to training, and was reading to third graders by 10 am. The experience was great! The children were enthusiastic about reading, the other volunteers were friendly, and getting breakfast was an added benefit. I have stayed with reading to kids for a number of reasons. *The clubs are always the second Saturday of the month, and if you cannot make a Saturday or two, its ok. You will be very excited to return the following month. *The kids are great – and after a few clubs, you will see returning kids that will recognize you and say the most endearing things! *The other volunteers are “good people.” It nice to be reminded of the truly nice people out there – especially after a week of commuting on LA freeways. *And of course, the main reason I stay, the reading to kids’ staff is awesome!