GOLD2023

Start Reading Now

Creating a Culture of Reading and Learning for Life

Minneapolis, MN   |  www.startreadingnow.org

Mission

Start Reading Now helps close the achievement gap for low-income kids in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade in Minneapolis Public Schools. We do that by helping kids create their own library of 30 books, built over three summers. This directly addresses the fact that on average, low-income kids have less than one book at home, which means they have nothing to read over the summer. And if you don't have books, you don't read. If you don't read, you don't learn. If you don't learn, you fall behind, and are quickly on the short end of the stick for life. So we get kids books. It costs less than $50 per year, per kid.

Ruling year info

2016

Chairman

Mr Jim Wolford

Main address

250 Marquette Avenue

Minneapolis, MN 55401 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

47-5221625

NTEE code info

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

We address Summer Setback (Summer Slide) and the Achievement Gap. Specifically, we address the fact the low income kids fall behind over the summer in large part because they do not read. And a major reason they do not read is that, according to research, the poorest of poor kids have under one (1) book in the home - they have nothing to read. This problem has been most succinctly addressed in research by Dr. Richard Allington, and our program is base on his research.

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?

Start Reading Now

We fundraise for vouchers for low income kids to buy 10 books each at book fairs we sponsor at the end of the school year after 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade. By the end of the program, each kid has his or her own library of 30 books

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of books distributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth

Related Program

Start Reading Now

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

In 2019 we will fund 43,000 books for 4,300 kids. The number of kids declined slightly due to a decline in students in MPS, available funding, and funds required for a 3rd party program assessment

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

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.

We aim to help more low-income kids achieve the benchmark for reading at grade as they enter 4th grade.

Aside from that we seek to "Create a Culture and Reading for Life". By that we mean, encouraging kids to be excited to pick out, own, and share books and a love for reading.

We fund $50 vouchers for low-income kids in 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade to each buy 10 new, self-selected books at book fairs that we sponsor, staff and fund. We do that at elementary schools during the last week or two of school, as kids prepare to go into the summer break. We offer kids hundreds of titles to choose from, and we never tell them which books to buy - it's their money, their decision.

We fund the vouchers, coordinate all activities with the schools, and staff the fairs with volunteers we organize.

We also collaborate where possible with other agencies to leverage capabilities. For example, we are now partnering with the county library system in Minneapolis to drive kids to public libraries over the summer, where they can earn an 11th free book via the Read, Write, Draw program the library system supports.

Funding - we have grown from nothing to $200,000+ (Y/E Sept 2018) in five year by cultivating several corporate and family foundations that believe in our mission.

Volunteers - we source and organize individuals and corporate groups to staff all our fairs. As a result, we have no staffing costs to deliver our fairs.

Books - we partner with Scholastic Books to bring a regular book fair to the schools, so we do not need to build our own logistics system to deliver books. We also have a unique pricing model with Scholastic that simplifies this process.

Schools - we partner with the Minneapolis Public School system to identify the highest need schools, to collaborate on awareness, and drive success. We have multiple other school systems in Minnesota and other states that are now interested in bringing Start Reading Now to their school systems.

Technology - in 2017 we built out a technology platform that allows to us easily create local chapters of SRN, complete with dedicated and automated volunteer sign up, localized fundraising and communication

People - we have a very lean team of experienced people leading the organization. The Co-Founders are experienced technology and strategy consultants with 20+ years of operational experience each, and the one part-time consultant who leads operations has 6+ years of directly relevant non-profit experience.

We have grown from serving 300 kids in year 1 to 5,500 in May 2018, and we will have funded 125,000 books over those years.

We will have our first set of test scores of kids who have matched the research model of 3 years in the program in Fall of 2018. As mentioned above, we believe we will have the largest number of kids who have been through a real world implementation of this research, with an N exceeding 1,000.

Of course, the worst case scenario is we have thousands of kids who each own at least 10 new books that they selected themselves as part of their own library.

We have started to get interest from other communities to bring Start Reading Now to their community. We have active interest from the 2nd and 3rd largest cities in Minnesota, several community foundations in other large cities in the country, and a leading citizen activist in Montana who wants to bring the program to that state's largest city in 2019. If we were to achieve all that in 2019, we would be on pace to double our reach next year.

Financials

Start Reading Now
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Operations

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

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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Start Reading Now

Board of directors
as of 02/06/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Jim Wolford

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? No
  • 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? No
  • 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? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 2/6/2023

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

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 02/06/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.