Raising Readers Together

Today I proudly announce the formation of the Children’s Reading Alliance (CRA), a new name and identity for the Children’s Reading Foundation of Dona Ana County.

Children’s Reading Alliance focuses on one objective, to engage families and the community in promoting children’s literacy.

As a reader of this column you are, quite likely, a member of this alliance already. You read, you believe in reading, you read to your own children, you give books as gifts. You care about educational success for children. Maybe you do more than that.

The fact is that in the five years that the Children’s Reading Alliance has grown, not once, has anyone told any of us “No, I don’t support your mission.”

Raising Readers Together, our slogan, reflects our community’s collective value: that all families should have equal access to books and learning experiences that prepare children to reach their full potential for success in school and life.

Maria Flores, our first president, likes to say that we are the “Book People.” We work hard to live up to that name. Over the course of five years we have put 60,000 books into the hands of children in Dona Ana County.

Along the way, we have formed powerful partnerships and alliances. The Stocker Foundation, Community Action Agency, Las Cruces Bulletin have been with us from the start. Caring individuals, businesses, family foundations, the social service sector, early education providers, non-profit groups, professors at NMSU, principals in LCPS and Ngage NM have extended our reach to even more families. Our First Teacher parent workshops have impacted another 500 families by providing information, quality children’s literature and educational toys to underserved families throughout the county.

As a grassroots volunteer initiative, our learning curve is steep and we are grateful to the many mentors who have helped us grow. Our second president, Ann Rohovec, realized that becoming an independent entity is the next step for impacting educational outcomes for the most children. She set about the task of establishing the new identity and 501©3 status that we are celebrating now.

Which brings me to the subject of how our grass roots initiative is dependent on volunteers. Before this adventure I taught in public schools. I took great satisfaction in advocating for my students, influencing the future one student at a time. I had only the vaguest notion of how large scale community change occurs and I certainly never saw myself learning about corporate sponsorships, insurance, lease agreements, workman’s compensation, budgets, reports to Internal Revenue, grant management and all the other necessary accoutrements of the non-profit world.

As the new President of CRA I thank all of you who have expressed your encouragement for what we are trying to do and are grateful to the mentors and contributors who have gotten us to this point. We are on the cusp of expanding our impact and your support is more important than ever. CRA is a grassroots volunteer venture with all the challenges that implies so we welcome everyone to join with us. Your contribution is valuable in almost any form. Besides money and expertise in organizational management, human resources, and financial development, there are numerous tasks that do not require sophisticated skills or enormous amounts of time. Creating educational success for all children can be as simple as taking on one small job once in a while. Volunteers who do the “little” tasks are the spine that keeps us and our books together.

Some of the jobs we need help with include delivering books, organizing materials into kits, making copies, sitting at a table and talking to people, shopping, unpacking boxes of books, note writing, addressing envelopes, taking pictures, planning a party.

Visit our website www.childrensreadingalliance.org   Send mail to Children’s Reading Alliance, P.O. Box 285, Mesilla, NM 88046 or email me directly at rmeasure@gmail.com