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RIF, Senator Roger Wicker Inspire Children to Read at Rust College

Event Underscores the Need to Restore RIF’s Federal Funding

Holly Springs, MS, July 8, 2011—Today, Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Judy Cheatham, Ph.D., vice president of literacy services of Reading Is Fundamental, the nation’s largest children’s literacy organization, discussed the importance of summer reading with children and their parents at Rust College. The event was bittersweet; dozens of children were inspired to read and received free books for their home library, yet the local RIF program’s future is in jeopardy with the federal funding cut this year.

“RIF has been successful at providing free books to millions of children for nearly 45 years,” said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of RIF. “For many children living in Mississippi and across the country, RIF is their only opportunity to own books to read.  As a nation, we cannot afford to give up on our children’s education and ultimately their future.”

“A love of reading is a priceless gift that will shape the lives of these children for years to come,” said Wicker.  “Parents, teachers, and communities should work together to promote reading and ensure the success of our future generations.”

Wicker and Cheatham, along with Fergenia Hood, Mississippi RIF Ambassador and coordinator of the Institute of Community Services (ICS) Head Start RIF program, highlighted RIF’s commitment to literacy in Mississippi and discussed the future of the literacy organization after the loss of its federal funding. Additionally, Wicker and his wife Gayle read to the children and each child received four books for their home libraries.

In 2010, nearly 10,000 RIF volunteers across Mississippi distributed nearly 300,000 books to more than 85,000 children. The nearly 900 events to encourage literacy among children and families and the emphasis on book ownership are critical components in helping Mississippi’s neediest children achieve their potential in school.

In March, RIF’s federal funding was cut without alternatives in place. With a clear need in Mississippi as well as nationwide for the organization, RIF looks to its future to build a funding base to maintain and expand the organization’s infrastructure so that it can reach all 13 million American children living in poverty.

About Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF)
Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF), founded in 1966, motivates children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life. RIF’s highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and U.S. territory, RIF provided 4 million children with 15 million new, free books and literacy resources last year. For more information and to access reading resources, visit RIF’s website at www.rif.org.

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RIF, Senator Roger Wicker Inspire Children to Read at Rust College