Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/washington/news.aspx?id=133313
Story Retrieval Date: 5/19/2013 6:39:29 PM CST
WASHINGTON--When hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Trenice Lear's family settled in Baton Rouge after a pit stop in Houston, Texas. Trenice and her two older siblings found that reading represented normalcy throughout their displacement.
Her dad, Tristan, says his eight-year-old daughter has always had a curious mind. His career in law enforcement prevented him from telling her about his work. But Trenice's inquisitiveness meant she did not take no for an answer. She picked up a newspaper in the hopes she would find out more about her dad's work.
"She's always inherited a talent for seeking and reading is one of the avenues that she seeks her information," said Tristan Lear.
The Lear family was in Washington to attend the 2009 Gift of Reading gala organized by Reading is Fundamental, Inc. The event recognized past donors and cultivated new ones. The not for profit organization raised $430,000 in private money for its programs in one night.
The program relies on government funding to be well resourced.
"The federal grant has not grown over the last eight or nine years," Carol Rasco, president and CEO of the organization said.
Private donations supplement government resources and allow the organization to reduce the over 1 million person waiting list for books, says Rasco.
Another focus of the organization is that it serves many poor communities that sometimes have parents who can't read and the private donations are critical in this project.
"We use private dollars to go in and give parent training, caregiver training, child center training to help them begin to get ready to get children to school," she said.
Meanwhile, the bad economy has presented even more challenges and some past donors have reduced their gifts. Nevertheless Rasco said, "we feel very fortunate because we have a long, great, storied history."
And "we lose some groups at a time like this but interestingly, we gain some," Rasco said.