Educational Institutions

Read to Grow

  • Branford, CT
  • www.readtogrow.org

Mission Statement

The mission of Read to Grow is to promote language skills and literacy for children, beginning at birth, and to support parents as their babies' first teachers.We operate with two programs: Books for Babies and Books for Kids, and have given more than 1.3 million free children's books in our 15 years.Research shows that babies begin learning rapidly at birth. Brain growth and development are greatest during a child's first three years. Healthy stimulation and bonding come through parents reading, talking, singing, and playing with their babies. Census data show that close to a quarter of American children live in poverty or near-poverty. By age 3, many children in low-income homes have not heard enough words to be prepared for success in school. Some have heard as many as 30 million fewer words than have children in higher-income homes. Also, of children struggling to learn to read in 1st grade, nearly 90% will be poor readers in 4th grade, when reading to learn is essential. In our vision, every family -- regardless of income, race and primary language -- will understand the critical importance of early childhood literacy and will take an active role in their child's reading development. Also, all children in Connecticut will have books of their own.

Main Programs

  1. Books for Babies
  2. Books for Kids
Service Areas

Self-reported

Connecticut

Read to Grow provides children's books and early literacy resources to families throughout Connecticut. Our programs serve families living in town and cities, from Bridgeport and New Haven to Middletown, Hartford, New London, Putnam, Sharon, and many others.

ruling year

2000

Principal Officer since 2014

Self-reported

Ms. Kyn Tolson

Keywords

Self-reported

early childhood literacy, childhood literacy, literacy, language development, reading

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EIN

06-1572185

 Number

3252120386

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

Health Support Services (E60)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

ACCOMPLISHMENT #1: Since June 2014, we have started formal collaborations with dozens of other nonprofits that already serve families living in need and at risk to establish 25 Book Places and 13 Partnerships. At Book Places, which are hosted by other nonprofits, families who receive services at those host sites and families who live in the surrounding communities have easy access to visit and select books for their children to keep at home. Literacy information is also offered at these places.Through Partnerships, Read to Grow also collaborates with other agencies, adding an early childhood literacy component to services they already provide directly to families.
IMPACT OF ACCOMPLISHMENT #1: We have reached directly more than 20,000 people in the first 18 months of these new collaborations. These collaborations, which have provided workshops for client families, will continue to grow.

ACCOMPLISHMENT #2: In the last year, Read to Grow has expanded the Book for Babies program to more primary care centers so that both pregnant mothers and families with 2-month-old babies will learn about the importance of early language skills for their children. They also receive books so that, even at a young age, their children can have "home libraries" of their own.
IMPACT OF ACCOMPLISHMENT #2: More families with young children who don't have the means to buy books are not only getting books but are also learning about the significance of reading and talking with their infants.

ACCOMPLISHMENT #3: Through the hiring of Read to Grow's first bilingual staff member, we are more integrated into communities of families who are primarily Spanish-speaking and in need of children's books and literacy services.

ACCOMPLISHMENT #4: For both our Books for Babies program and our Books for Kids program, we have instituted more surveys and data-gathering systems that will help us measure our efficacy and will provide more meaningful measurements to funders and potential funders.

ACCOMPLISHMENT #5: Over the last year, we have continued to supply Literacy Packets to more than 52% percent of all families with newborns in Connecticut. We do this at our 12 partner hospitals. Also, more than 23% of those families opt to remain in our Books for Babies program and receive two more free books during their babies' first year.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

Books for Babies

Books for Babies is a program that builds literacy from birth. Books for Babies reaches over 52% of Connecticut newborns and their families annually in partnership with 12 hospitals in the Greater New Haven, Hartford, Bridgeport, Manchester New London, Sharon, Middletown, Norwalk, Putnam, and Derby. Through Books for Babies, we connect with parents of newborns while on the maternity unit. Trained volunteers visit with parents to talk about early literacy development. Before discharge, each family receives a bag with a new children's book and a guide that explains the many simple ways to stimulate their child's language development. Families can receive free, new children's books through the first year of life and information on how to help their child develop early literacy skills.

Category

Population(s) Served

Infants/Babies (under age 5)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

$352,723.00

Program 2

Books for Kids

Books for Kids provides new and gently used books to children of all ages who need them and to programs that serve children and their families. Through two new collaborations -- Book Places and Partnerships -- we focus on reaching more families living in poverty. Last year, we distributed more than 150,000 books through the Books for Kids. More and more, we are purchasing new bilingual Spanish-English books to meet the demand of Hispanic populations in Connecticut's urban centers.

Category

Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

$355,880.00

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    Read to Grow's overall goal is to promote early literacy and school readiness by increasing access to books and by encouraging all parents to set aside time to read, talk and sing with their children and bond through books beginning at birth. We support families in their role as their child's first teacher and help them recognize that infants' brains are ready for, and need, language stimulation right from birth.

    Sharing books gives children one-on-one attention, helps parent and child bond, and stimulates healthy brain development and conversations. Through our programs, parents learn the simple, fun ways they can help their children to be ready for school.

    Our immediate goals are to support parents in understanding their role in helping their children develop the language skills necessary for learning to read later on; to provide families with the tools they need to create a lifelong appreciation of reading and learning. Reading aloud to children is the best single way to encourage early language development and to prevent low literacy.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Our work is accomplished through two time-tested programs—Books for Babies and Books for Kids.
    Books for Babies is hospital-based and therefore we reach all segments of the population, all levels of education and socio-economic status. We help parents get started by providing Literacy Packets with the tools they need – children's books and information on baby brain development along with a guidebook. Trained volunteers or nurses visit moms in their hospital rooms to provide information about early brain development and sharing books with their babies.
    The program features a Follow-Up during the children's first year for families that register for it. We send free, age-appropriate baby board books and informational brochures for parents when their infants reach 3 months and 1 year old. We then continue support by making books easily accessible for families and ensuring there are age-appropriate children's books in the home. Books for Kids supports low-income children through collaborations with schools, daycares, pediatric clinics and others serving children in need. In Partnerships, we collaborate with other nonprofits already helping low-income and at-risk families to add or enhance early childhood literacy services. We have 12 Partnerships in the state. Through Book Places/Rincónes del Libro, sites are established at other nonprofits where their clients and other families in the surrounding communities can get free books to keep. We have 28 Book Places in Connecticut. Locations and details of each site are available on our website: www.readtogrow.org.

    Through our programs, parents learn the simple, fun ways they can help their children's language and early literacy development, and have the age-appropriate children's books they need provided for free.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Beginning in 1999 at one hospital in New Haven, Read to Grow's Books for Babies program now provides books to over 58% of all newborns in Connecticut along with early literacy guidance to their parents and/or caregivers through 12 hospital partners around the state, many in areas where poverty and low literacy rates are the highest. Since 2000, the Books for Kids program has grown to providing over 150,000 new and gently used children's books to those who need them.

    We have a knowledgeable, dedicated staff who have successfully provided and enhanced our programs for the last 16 years. While our Books for Babies materials have been available in Spanish for many years, we now have a Spanish speaking Books for Kids Coordinator who co-teaches workshops and translates additional materials for the programs. It has been shown that reading to children in any language helps build the parts of the brain necessary for learning to read when in school.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    After extensive work with a consultant, surveys have been modified to better measure parent gain of knowledge imparted by Read to Grow, whether parents are reading to their children and how often, and numbers of books in the home. Surveys are sent with the 3-month and 12-month Follow-up mailings and are administered pre- and post- early literacy workshops.

    We can track the number of books distributed and through what channels. Partnerships and Book Place sites provide demographic data on their constituents.

    We know that sharing books with children from birth promotes bonding and helps to foster healthy emotional and cognitive growth. Reading aloud to children is the best single way to encourage
    early language development and to prevent low literacy.

    In the last year, we distributed over 180,000 children's books.

  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Over 16 years, Read to Grow has distributed more than 1.49 million free books to children and families in Connecticut. We annually reach 58% of Connecticut's mothers with newborns, giving them literacy packets containing: baby board books; booklets with tips for new parents to develop their children's language skills; and reply cards that enable them to get more free books mailed to their homes during their babies' first year. Our Books for Babies staff manages this flagship program (which also involves volunteers visiting new mothers in their hospital rooms to discuss the literacy packets and the importance of early childhood literacy) through formal partnerships with 12 hospitals in the state.

    Our goal is to move from reaching 58% of all mothers with newborns to 100%, which will require negotiating with other hospitals in the state to reach partnerships and finding outside funding sources. Outside funding is likely needed, because none of our current 12 hospital partners fully funds its program. In fact, only two provide partial funding.

    We have launched an initiative to inform pregnant women about the important roles they will play in their babies' language development and future literacy. The new prenatal project, which focuses on mothers-to-be receiving care at community health centers and primary care clinics, also provides free children's books so that families have “home libraries" even before their babies are born.

    We are eager to grow this prenatal intervention from its two sites, where we are developing our protocol and materials, to many more community health centers and primary care centers. Our goal is to reach a significantly larger number of low-income and at-risk women on the verge of having babies.

    Through both of our two programs --- Books for Babies and Books for Kids --- we annually give more than 185,000 books. Since starting special collaborations in mid-2014 with other nonprofits in order to reach more low-income and at-risk families, the demand for our books has gone from about 120,000 books a year to well over 185,000. We are great need of more bilingual (Spanish-English) and baby board books. These types of books rarely come to us through donations of gently used books, so we must purchase that inventory.

    We are extremely encouraged by the many formal collaborations we have made (40+) since mid-2014 with other nonprofits already serving low-income families with young children. We have a growing network of partners woven into the fabric of their communities. We leverage our knowledge about early childhood literacy and our resources—children's books; workshops; other materials and information—with the expertise and access of other nonprofits. We aim to make many more partnerships in the coming years.
Service Areas

Self-reported

Connecticut

Read to Grow provides children's books and early literacy resources to families throughout Connecticut. Our programs serve families living in town and cities, from Bridgeport and New Haven to Middletown, Hartford, New London, Putnam, Sharon, and many others.

Social Media

Funding Needs

1) Funding for the Books for Babies program within our 12 partner hospitals in Connecticut: $140,000. (This does not represent the total amount of money needed to run the hospital-based program.) 2) Additional workshop materials, bookcases, and new bilingual and multi-cultural children's books for our Book Places and Partnerships: $45,0003) Part-time staff for development and marketing work at the Read to Grow office: $35,000 4) Funding to initiate a project to develop prenatal interventions so that families expecting babies can learn about the importance of early childhood language skills and can begin acquiring children's books: $15,000 5) Improvements for our van, which now does regular and frequent deliveries to: 12 hospitals; 23 Book Places; and 12 other nonprofits with which we are formally partnered. This same vehicle also is used for numerous pick-ups of used book throughout the state: $5,000

Videos

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External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

READ TO GROW, INC
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Read to Grow

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2015 and 2014
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
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Principal Officer

Ms. Kyn Tolson

BIO

Ms. Tolson was previously director for Outreach for Haiti. She worked at The Day newspaper in New London for many years and was the deputy managing editor there. During years in journalism, she also worked for Associated Press in NYC.

STATEMENT FROM THE Principal Officer

"The first step to literacy is developing good language skills. Language skills at kindergarten entry are among the best predictors of later reading and writing abilities and even success in school.Reading aloud exposes babies to words and speech and helps build good language skills early on. Read to Grow is the only statewide organization to connect with parents of newborns in the hospitals, giving them the resources that will allow them to make the most of the critical early years. We hope that their children will enter school ready to learn to read, grow and thrive. "

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Roxanne J Coady

RJ Julia Booksellers

Term: July 2000 - June 2018

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization

Yes

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Yes

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Yes

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Yes

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Yes

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


ORGANIZATIONAL DEMOGRAPHICS

In order to support nonprofits and gain valuable insight for the sector, GuideStar worked with D5—a five-year initiative to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in philanthropy—in creating a questionnaire. This section is a voluntary questionnaire that empowers organizations to share information on the demographics of who works in and leads organizations. To protect the identity of individuals, we do not display sexual orientation or disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff. Any values displayed in this section are percentages of the total number of individuals in each category (e.g. 20% of all Board members for X organization are female).

Gender
This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Volunteers.
Race & Ethnicity
This organization reports that it does not collect this information for Volunteers.
Sexual Orientation

This organization reports that it does not collect this information.

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Diversity Strategies
No
We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
No
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
No
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
No
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
No
We have a diversity committee in place
No
We have a diversity manager in place
No
We have a diversity plan
No
We use other methods to support diversity