'Jean Dean RIF' Honored as Reading Is Fundamental's National Program of the Month
Program Serves more than 25,000 Children Across Alabama
WASHINGTON, August 1, 2010—This month Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation's oldest and largest children and families' literacy nonprofit organization, selected Jean Dean RIF as their national Program of the Month award winner.
The highly successful and effective Jean Dean RIF program is the product of a 20-year partnership between RIF and Alabama Kiwanis, as well as the efforts of RIF Coordinator Cathy Gafford. The idea to form a partnership began with a Kiwanis International initiative, Young Children Priority One - aimed at improving the lives of children in Kiwanis districts. Gafford's father, Joe Dean, the district governor of Alabama Kiwanis, and his wife, Jean, made plans to partner with RIF to create a Books For Ownership program. Jean Dean RIF was named posthumously in honor of Cathy's mother Jean, who was committed to partnering with RIF to improve children's literacy throughout Alabama.
"The growth of Jean Dean RIF is a tribute to the dedication of Ms. Gafford and the enthusiasm of the volunteers," said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of RIF. "Their presence has made the name Jean Dean RIF a symbol of hope for children across Alabama as they continue to discover the joys of reading."
Since receiving support from RIF, Jean Dean RIF has become the signature service project of the Alabama Kiwanis Foundation. Each year, more than 25,000 children receive free books from the Jean Dean RIF program. In the last 20 years, they have provided over 1 million quality, age-appropriate books for 370,000 at-risk children.
The program is made possible through the efforts of thousands of volunteers. "Without the help of our volunteers across the state, fundraising events, and the donations of caring individuals, this program would not be possible," said RIF Coordinator Cathy Gafford. "We are thankful to have a community that is aware of the literacy issues facing our children today."
In addition to their book distributions, Jean Dean RIF also offers Family of Readers, where parents of 6,000 at-risk children participate in reading challenges, receive family literacy training, and borrow books for their children through lending libraries. Migrant Books For Ownership is another program which serves Alabama's agriculture producing counties. Also, the Shared Beginnings program offered over 500 teen parents and their babies three books a year and the opportunity to take part in literacy activities.
Jean Dean RIF also works with Head Start, Even Start centers, state-sponsored daycares, early intervention centers, and housing projects.
RIF's Program of the Month initiative was launched to honor the ongoing efforts of local programs to fulfill the mission of RIF, which depends on innovative programs to promote children's literacy. Thanks to thousands of volunteers, children all across the country are discovering the joy of reading.
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 provides 4.4 million children with 15 million new, free books and literacy resources each year. For more information, and to access reading resources, visit RIF's website at www.RIF.org.