A volunteer program that has provided more than 750,000 free books to students in the Washoe County School District (WCSD) since 2007 is in critical need of community and volunteer support. Due to funding losses at the federal level, the Read & Succeed program lacks a volunteer manager to supervise teams of volunteers.
Without volunteer or financial support to pay for a part-time employee, the Read & Succeed program is in danger of being cut back or eliminated altogether.
“This is such an important program for our students who receive these books,” said Lisa-Marie Lightfoot, coordinator for the WCSD Volunteer Services program. “These students rarely have any other appropriate reading material at home, and many times these free books are the only way they have to maintain their reading skills when they are not in school. We provide them with free books before the fall, winter, spring, and summer breaks. The Read & Succeed program has proved very successful over the past decade, and I sincerely hope we can keep it up and running for our students who need it.”
“It is crucial that our students consistently practice their reading skills, and these free books have proved invaluable in helping them achieve academic success,” said Deputy Superintendent Dr. Kristen McNeill. “So many of our students who receive these free books would have no other way to practice at home. Many people have worked hard to make Read & Succeed a successful and positive outreach effort for our students, and I am hopeful that, with the community’s support, we can keep it running.”
The District is seeking to recruit volunteers who can donate 7-8 hours per week to managing a group of volunteers who clean, screen, and sort through new or gently used books that have been donated by the community and local businesses. These books are then distributed at schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, the Women and Children’s Center, Reno Housing Authority Family Site Community Center, and many other locations throughout the area. Last year, Read & Succeed supplied 138,000 books to the children of Washoe County.
Alternatively, WCSD Volunteer Services is soliciting donations to raise $25,000 to pay for a part-time employee who can manage volunteers who are organizing the books for distribution. Crowdfunding sites have been set up to accept donations for Read & Succeed at https://www.crowdrise.com/
When the program first began a decade ago, the District struggled to find enough donated books. With the support of Grassroots Books, WCSD bought pallets of gently used children’s books at a wholesale rate—sometimes as many as 4,000 books for $300—and Better World Books continues to donate pallets of free books. Over the years, many more businesses have participated in book drives by providing receptacles for their employees or customers to donate children’s books, and thanks to the hard work of many volunteers, the program has continued to prosper.