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Reading Is Fundamental® Hosts Z Is for Moose Fundraising Gala

Senator Roger F. Wicker (R-Miss.) and Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15, D) Among Those Honored

Washington, D.C. – On May 19, 2015, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) celebrated an evening of children’s literacy excellence at its annual fundraising gala. The theme this year was Z Is for Moose, based on the popular children’s book by author and illustrator, Kelly Bingham and Paul O. Zelinsky. Throughout the evening, RIF honored notable advocates, supporters and volunteers, including U.S. Senator Roger F. Wicker (R-MS) and U.S. Congressman Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15, D) with the Book Champion Award for their leadership on behalf of RIF and its legislative priorities on Capitol Hill. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation received RIF’s Legacy of Literacy Award for their commitment to investing in children’s lives. In addition, RIF recognized the outstanding service of four volunteers, Maira Burns of McAllen, TX, Dr. Wanda Dawson of Bayboro, NC, Ellen Halliday of Brooklyn, NY and Justina (JJ) Head of Northern Virginia who were awarded the Anne Hazard Richardson Volunteer of the Year Award (VOYA). 

“We are very excited to extend this year’s RIF Book Champion award to both Senator Wicker and Congressman Hinojosa,” noted Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of RIF. “Their dedication to and passion for ensuring all children have access to books and learning materials is outstanding and we are grateful for their support.”

“Books empower children with knowledge and give them the opportunity to develop valuable skills,” Wicker said. “Reading Is Fundamental is a critically important program for promoting literacy. I am pleased to receive this award and take part in this valuable mission.”

“I first partnered with RIF when I started the South Texas Literacy Coalition,” said Congressman Hinojosa. “I firmly believe in the power of books to unlock a child’s academic potential and am honored to be recognized as a book champion.”

There are 16 million children living in poverty in the United States, many of whom do not have access to quality books. Senator Wicker and Congressman Hinojosa have helped lead the charge for RIF in Washington, D.C. and are dedicated supporters of RIF’s work in local communities.

In addition to congressional support, RIF has partnered with major corporations to provide books for children who need them most. The Dollar General Literacy Foundation has been a long-time benefactor of RIF and its book distribution programs throughout the United States. Since 2004, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has provided free books and reading activities to approximately 400,000 children and contributed nearly $2 million in financial support.   

“We are so pleased to extend this year’s Legacy of Literacy award to the Dollar General Literacy Foundation,” noted Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of RIF. “Their dedication to providing children from economically disadvantaged communities with free books to own is remarkable and we are thankful for their generosity.”

“Dollar General is extremely honored to be recognized with the 2015 Legacy of Literacy Award, which reflects our longstanding commitment to improving childhood literacy in the communities we serve and our corporate mission of serving others,” said Denine Torr, director of community initiatives for Dollar General. “We are proud to call Reading Is Fundamental a partner for more than a decade as we strive to give children opportunities to flourish and enrich their education through accessibility to high-quality books.”

The celebration started at a luncheon in the afternoon where the four VOYA award-recipients were recognized. During the gala yesterday evening, children’s author and illustrator, Kelly Bingham and Paul O. Zelinsky conducted a read-aloud and delighted the audience with their storytelling and hilarious antics.
RIF President and CEO, Carol H. Rasco also spoke about an incredible accomplishment at RIF with the recent announcement of a major research study and program model, Read for Success, which is an evidence-based model used to stem the summer learning slide through age-appropriate STEAM-themed books and learning resources. www.rif.org/readforsuccess.com.

About RIF
Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) delivers free books and literacy support to children and families in underserved communities in the United States. By giving children the opportunity to own a book, RIF inspires them to become lifelong readers and achieve their full potential. As the nation's largest children's literacy nonprofit, RIF has placed 412 million books in the hands of more than 40 million children since it was established in 1966. To learn more and help RIF provide books to kids who need them most, visit www.RIF.org.


Media Contact:
Tracey Beeker, Reading is Fundamental
(202) 536-3458


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