Educational Institutions

Read to Grow

  • Branford, CT
  • www.readtogrow.org

Mission Statement

The mission of Read to Grow is to promote language development and literacy for children, beginning at birth, and to support parents as their babies' first teachers. Our vision is that 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.

We operate with two programs in Connecticut: Books for Babies and Books for Kids.

The Books for Babies (BFB) program provides new board books to over 58% of all newborns in the state and early literacy guides (booklets) to their parents/caregivers through 12 hospital partners. Volunteers, trained by Read to Grow, or nursing staff, visit families on the maternity unit to explain the many ways parents can encourage literacy and language development by regularly reading aloud, talking, and singing to their babies. Research shows that babies begin learning rapidly at birth. Brain growth and development are greatest during a child's first three years.

Books for Kids (BFK) helps children stay on the path to literacy by making free books available to more than 350 organizations (including schools, day care centers, family resource centers, and health centers) that serve our most vulnerable children.

There is a startling difference between the academic achievements of low-income students compared to middle-income students. This difference, known as the achievement gap, is high in Connecticut. Results from the English Language Arts (ELA) portion of the tests administered in 2015 report that nearly 63% of middle-income children scored at or above goal but only 30% (less than half) of poor children scored that high. (CT Office of Legislative Research, January, 2016).

Research shows that owning books can help reduce this gap. “The achievement gap that exists between low-income and high-income children can be narrowed or even closed simply by giving books to low-income kids." Richard Allington et al, "Ameliorating summer reading setback among economically disadvantaged elementary students," February 2010.

Read to Grow's Books for Babies and Books for Kids programs makes it easy for families to obtain children books. Families receive free books from Read to Grow when they receive prenatal care at one of our community health center partners, when their babies are born at one of our 12 hospital partners, when their babies are three months old (if they register for Follow-up), and any time they visit a Book Place, receive services at one of our Partnerships or visit one of the 350 organizations that receive our books. Families can also receive books by calling or sending an email to our office. Our BFK Coordinators give personalized attention to all who request books (individuals and organizations). They find out as much as they can about the ages, reading levels and interests of the readers in order to provide appropriate books that will engage the children.

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.

Books for Babies operates in 12 hospitals: Bridgeport, Day-Kimball in Putnam, Griffin in Derby, Hartford, Lawrence +Memorial in New London, Manchester Memorial, Middlesex, Sharon, St. Raphael in New Haven, St. Francis in Hartford, St. Vincent in Bridgeport, and Yale-New Haven.

Books for Kids distributes books to 350 organizations in towns and cities all over Connecticut.

ruling year

2000

Executive Director 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)

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 low-income and at-risk families to establish 31 Book Places and 13 Partnerships. Book Places, which are hosted by other nonprofits, provide families who receive services at the host site and families who live in the surrounding communities with age appropriate books for their children to keep at home. Literacy information is also available.
Read to Grow also collaborates with other agencies to create formal Partnerships by adding an early childhood literacy component to services 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: 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 58% 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 58% 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 who register for Follow-up can receive free, new children's books through the first year of life and information on how to help their children develop early literacy skills.

Category

Education

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

Results

Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one. These quantitative program results are self-reported by the organization, illustrating their committment to transparency, learning, and interest in helping the whole sector learn and grow.

1. Number of books distributed

Target Population
Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people, Children and youth (0-19 years), Families

Connected to a Program?
Books for Kids
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric
CT families receive books by: visiting one of our Book Places; receiving services from other non-profits with whom we partner (e.g., doctors, teachers); or by sending requests through our website.

2. Number of families with newborns in Connecticut who receive literacy packets and free books.

Target Population
Infants to preschool (under age 5), Families

Connected to a Program?
Books for Babies
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric
We work with 12 of Connecticut's 28 hospitals. Every mother of a baby born in these hospitals receives a literacy packet with a new board book and can register to receive another free book.

3. Number of families with infants who register for Follow-up to receive more literacy information and more free books.

Target Population
Infants to preschool (under age 5), Families

Connected to a Program?
Books for Babies
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric
Every family who receives a literacy packet when their baby is born can register for Follow-up to receive more books and literacy information when their baby is 3 months old.

4. Number of Book Places

Target Population
Children and youth (0-19 years), Families, Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Connected to a Program?
Books for Kids
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric
Book Places are located at partnered non-profits, many are in Family Resource Centers. Families can go to the Book Places to choose age appropriate books to take home and keep for their children.

5. Number of Partnerships

Target Population
Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people, Children and youth (0-19 years), Families

Connected to a Program?
Books for Kids
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric
We have formal relationships with other non-profit organizations. We add to or enhance their early childhood literacy services by providing books and offering literacy workshops.

6. Total number of donated (new and used) books that we receive

Target Population
Children and youth (0-19 years), Families, Economically disadvantaged, low-income, and poor people

Connected to a Program?
Books for Kids
TOTALS BY YEAR
Context notes for this metric
We receive our donated books from individuals, organizations that sponsor book drives or from publishers who donate new books. (Based on our fiscal year of July 1 to June 30).

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 13 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 31 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 annually to those who need them.

    We have a knowledgeable, dedicated staff who have successfully provided and enhanced our programs for the last 17 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 to parents before and after they attend 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 21,000 literacy packets to families of newborns and over 152,000 children's books.

  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Over 17 years, Read to Grow has distributed more than 1.5 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 pregnant women 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 original two sites 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 distribute more than 175,000 books annually. Since starting Book Places and Partnerships in mid-2014 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 in 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 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.

Books for Babies operates in 12 hospitals: Bridgeport, Day-Kimball in Putnam, Griffin in Derby, Hartford, Lawrence +Memorial in New London, Manchester Memorial, Middlesex, Sharon, St. Raphael in New Haven, St. Francis in Hartford, St. Vincent in Bridgeport, and Yale-New Haven.

Books for Kids distributes books to 350 organizations in towns and cities all over Connecticut.

Social Media

Funding Needs

1) Funding for the Books for Babies program within our 12 partner hospitals in Connecticut: $125,000. (This does not represent the total amount of money needed to run the hospital-based program.) 2) New bilingual English-Spanish books, board books, and multi-cultural children's books for our Book Places and Partnerships: $35,000. 3) Funding to support the Prenatal Project which adds a literacy component to existing prenatal group information sessions at community health centers. We provide resource materials (available in Spanish), including baby board books (in English or bilingual English – Spanish), and give literacy presentations in one or two of the classes. By the end of the session, pregnant women will have numerous literacy handouts and up to six new baby books. $25,000

Accreditations

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:
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  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2015
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
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Executive Director

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 Executive Director

"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 literacy information and baby board books. We encourage parents to make the most of the critical early years by developing the health habit of reading and talking to their children every day. 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?