aka MWFB   |   Tucson, AZ   |


Make Way for Books' mission is to give all children the chance to read and succeed. Established in 1998, we provide proven early literacy programs, services, and resources to 30,000 children, parents, and educators throughout Arizona annually. Make Way for Books builds on the latest research to provide innovative and bilingual programs that ensure underserved and economically disadvantaged young children (ages birth to 5) develop emergent literacy and language skills, social-emotional skills, and positive approaches to learning that are central to school readiness and academic success. Through a two-generation approach, we ensure caregivers have the skills and resources to support their children’s development.

Ruling year info


Chief Executive Officer

Ms. Yissel Salafsky

Main address

700 N. Stone Ave.

Tucson, AZ 85705 USA

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NTEE code info

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Voluntarism Promotion (T40)

Libraries, Library Science (B70)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Too often, poverty plays a role in educational opportunities. In our own community, one in three young children (ages birth to 5) live in poverty and are in danger of falling behind before they even enter kindergarten. Further, 3 out of 4 young children in our community do not have access to high-quality early education before kindergarten. Often, when children enter school behind, they struggle to catch up. Research indicates that children who are struggling readers in 1st grade are 88% more likely to be struggling readers in 4th grade. When children struggle to read in 4th grade, they are four times more likely to drop out of high school. That’s why there is so much attention on 3rd grade reading scores in our community and across the nation because if children are not on track by the end of third grade, their chances for success decrease substantially. It is far easier to reach children starting from birth with quality early education experiences than to try and catch them up later.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Early Childhood Professional Development Programs:

Through our comprehensive early childhood professional development strategies, we work to ensure economically disadvantaged and underserved young children have access to literacy and language-rich early learning environments and experiences from birth to 5 years. We provide professional development workshops and coaching, family engagement support, as well as high-quality books and resources to ensure educators have the strategies, skills, and tools to support the literacy development of young children in their care. This is achieved through two major program strategies: The Story Project, a professional development strategy for preschool and center-based early childhood educators; and Cuéntame, a professional development strategy specifically for home-based care providers.

The Story Project serves educators, families, and children enrolled at under-resourced preschools and childcare centers throughout southern Arizona through professional development workshops, coaching, family engagement programming, and increased access to high-quality, age-appropriate books. Make Way for Books has impacted thousands of children, families, and educators through southern Arizona through this strategy for more than 23 years.

Through our Cuéntame program, Make Way for Books provides coaching, workshops, high-quality books, and resources for early childhood professionals that provide care for young children in home-based care settings. Cuéntame is specifically designed to support Spanish-speaking home providers and provides strategies, support, and resources to implement meaningful, quality literacy and language practices with young children, including those in dual-language learning environments. This model has been recognized and received an exemplary practice distinction from First Things First’s Quality Assurance Team, for its innovative strategy to provide a culturally responsive service model to home-based care providers.

Across these program strategies, 97% of children gained critical literacy and language skills. Participating educators learn strategies to share books to support children’s literacy and language development. As a result of the program, 99% of educators and providers gained skills, confidence, and strategies to better support young children in their care.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Infants and toddlers

The literacy and language skills children develop in the first five years of life set a foundation for all future learning, including reading, writing, math, and approaches to learning such as grit and perseverance. However, many children do not have access to these critical early learning opportunities. Building on the latest research, we design and implement early literacy programs that ensure young children (ages birth to 5) develop literacy and language skills, social-emotional skills, and positive approaches to learning that are central to school readiness and academic success.

Make Way for Books provides an innovative two-generation model in which children and parents learn together. Our Family Education and Literacy programs, including Virtual Story School, Raising a Reader, and Make Way for Kindergarten, immerse young children in books and literacy and language-rich learning experiences and feature a strong parent engagement focus, empowering parents with skills and resources to support their children’s literacy development. Programming provides engaging shared reading and family literacy activities, increased access to high-quality books, and parent education. As a result, 99% of children make gains in early literacy and language skills and 98% of parents/caregivers gain skills, confidence, and tools to support their children’s early development.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Infants and toddlers

The Make Way for Books App is an innovative early literacy tool that encourages parents and caregivers to foster meaningful early literacy and language interactions with young children. The bilingual app provides access to high-quality digital children’s books and literacy activities families can do using what they already have at home. Families are encouraged to use the app but also to take these activities beyond the app by folding these interactions into their everyday routines and activities.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Books are critical learning tools for children and families. Largely maintained by dedicated volunteers and supplied with high-quality donated books, the Blue Book House Project places highly recognizable blue, house-shaped bookshelves stocked with new and gently used books in the waiting areas of social service agencies, businesses, and medical clinics throughout southern Arizona. Families are invited to share books and stories while they wait for or while receiving services. Families are encouraged to take a book to keep and continue building vital literacy skills at home. Make Way for Books distributes thousands of books to young children through this project annually.

Population(s) Served
Infants and toddlers
Children and youth

Where we work


American Prize 2022

Library of Congress

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Goal 1: MWFB develops and continues to provide high-quality educational opportunities for parents and early childhood professionals.
Goal 2: MWFB expands programs and services to reach more families, especially those in underserved areas of southern AZ.
Goal 3: MWFB expands resources available for children, families, educators, and volunteers.
Goal 4: MWFB develops evaluation tools for programs.
Goal 5: MWFB ensures that programming is aligned with mission, vision, and core values.
Goal 6: Identifies and maintains relationships with strategic partners. Partners include key educational foundations, publicly supported entities, home visitation agencies, teen parenting programs, and school districts.
Goal 7: MWFB staff strategically participates and attends community meetings with partners.
Goal 8: MWFB establishes relationship with University of Arizona.
Goal 9: MWFB defines the nature of its partnerships with other local, state, and national literacy organizations.
Goal 10: MWFB creates and facilitates an early literacy community of practice within Tucson and southern Arizona.
Goal 11: MWFB is responsive to inquiries related to early literacy.
Goal 12: Ensures that current programming aligns with current research and/or evidenced-based practice.
Goal 13: Integrate new components of research and/or evidenced-based programming into current programs as appropriate.
Goal 14: MWFB has sufficient number of high-caliber staff to deliver programs.
Goal15: High-quality materials are used in each program.
Goal 16: Increase families' awareness of MWFB services.
Goal 17: Maintain and expand the awareness of MWFB programs and services to other key organizations and educational programs in the community.
Goal 18: Create new events to extend awareness to appeal to new target audience.
Goal 19: Seek publicity for events and programming.
Goal 20: Quantify MWFB impact and share with the community; provide results of national research on the benefits of early literacy efforts.
Goal 21: Set immediate and long-term financial and organizational development goals.
Goal 22: Diversify funding sources to develop a financial safety net to accommodate for the ups-and-downs of grant-based funding. .
Goal 23: Increase the proportion of MWFB funding that is unrestricted to enable staff to work on research, education, and program development activities that are not grant-funded.
Goal 24: Increase board involvement.

Maintain a strong staff, strong leadership, and an active and engaged board to implement and support the goals and objectives outlined in the Strategic Plan.

We have implemented and carried out our plan of work for 21 years. We have a strong staff and an engaged board who is dedicated to the organization succeeding and carrying out its mission.

We have accomplished so much and continue to grow and expand our services to meet the needs of the communities we serve. We recently received funding to expand our services to Maricopa County in the Avondale School District.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    We don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Board of directors
as of 07/19/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. David Lovitt

Assured Partners, Retired

Term: 2023 - 2024

Board co-chair

Ms. Stephanie Engs


Term: 2023 - 2024

Jennifer J Stewart


Paul Bancroft


Mary Jan Bancroft

Retired, Founder

David Lovitt

Assured Partners

Sunni Lopez

Sunnyside School District

Karyn Prechtel-Altman

Pima County Public Library

Stephanie Engs


Stephanie Pearmain

University of Arizona

Patricia Clay

Waterfall Attorneys

Genny Matteucci

Retired, Executive Director

Lucy McCain

Retired, Educator

Felicia Durden

Associate faculty Arizona State University

Brieanna Chillious

Pima County Public Library

Dan Puglisi


Anne McClain

Banner Hospital

Nick Hilton

University of Arizona

Scott Ingram

Retired, Nonprofit Director

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 7/19/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data


No data