WHAT WE DO:
Reading Seed Children’s Literacy Program helps children in Pima County “learn to read so they can read to learn.” Reading Seed recruits and trains volunteer reading coaches from the community to assist children reading below their grade level in grades one through three. It also provides a lending library of books that match K-12 students’ interests with their reading abilities and distributes free books to children in order to encourage independent reading.
WHY WE SOUGHT SVP INVESTMENT:
Reading Seed had been largely developed and expanded by the Rotary Club of Tucson. But, the leadership of Reading Seed was well aware that the organization had to become more self-sufficient as the level of the Rotary support and involvement was certain to decrease with time. The application to SVP was submitted in order to build the infrastructure and capacity necessary for Reading Seed to move to the next level of its development.
Prior to SVP’s decision to invest, Reading Seed was considering a possible integration with other literacy organizations in the community, including a former SVP Investee, Literacy Volunteers of Tucson. SVP has since been involved with Reading Seed in this process.
$75,000 between 2010 and 2013 + Partner time and expertise
A PIVOTAL MOMENT
SVP Partner Ava Butler facilitated strategic planning sessions between the Reading Seed Staff and Board. These sessions helped Reading Seed to create 3-year strategic programming goals, and to examine where Reading Seed could fit into the literacy integration. Reading Seed’s Board unanimously voted to participate in a five-organization merger, now known as Literacy Connects. Elizabeth Campbell, former Reading Seed Executive Director described, “By the time a vote was taken, it was unanimous in large part because Ava helped create a clear, thoughtful process through which we arrived at our decision.”
Betty Stauffer, of Literacy Connects, said, “The merger that has happened here has definitely been capacity building for all five of the organizations.”
During the process, SVP Partner David “Griff” Griffis acted as a neutral convener and facilitator between Reading Seed and the other four organizations, as they decided whether or not to integrate their governance, programs and operations. Griff was also involved in writing a deal document, and creating integration teams between the five organizations Boards and Staff. Former Executive Director Elizabeth Campbell, commented, “Griff was absolutely instrumental to the successful result of this process! I am so grateful that SVP and Griff were able to provide this technical support!”
SVP Partner Cristie Street of Nextrio is currently upgrading Literacy Connects’ database to provide greater functionality which will “also provide a little bit more of the robustness that we need,” Betty said. “Cristie has been huge with helping our data person get ready to make the conversion.”