June 18, 2018

RAR Welcomes Michelle Torgerson

Last week, we welcomed our new president and chief executive officer Michelle Torgerson to the Raising A Reader family. Michelle will have oversight of RAR’s day-to-day operations and drive our initiatives and programs.

Both personally and professionally, Michelle has made a longstanding commitment to children’s literacy. She is entrepreneurial, mission-driven, places a high value on building and cultivating relationships and is an advocate for children and literacy. She has spent the past 20 years in the nonprofit sector and her experience includes leadership roles with nonprofits to deepen their reach in communities across the country. Click here to view the complete press release.

Affiliate Spotlight

In 2008, Carol’s Tiny Tots Daycare started implementing the Raising A Reader program through support from a state funded agency. Carol loved the program so much that she decided to continue implementing the program on her own when the state funding ended. Ten years later while reviewing a list of affiliate programs, RAR’s director of business development, Heather Deno, decided to make a call to find out more about her independently funded program.

Carol and Heather came up with a plan to raise a much needed $1,700 to refresh all of her site materials including incorporating STEM and Financial Literacy book collections. Carol was overwhelmed and nervous with the thought of raising money for the new materials, and hesitated to even get started, waiting more than two weeks to post her GoFundMe project “out of fear of rejection and pride”. “Literacy is the foundation of our program, our children thrive on story time several times a day. We invite people from all over to sit and read with us. One of our favorite reading quotes is from Dr. Seuss – ‘The more you read, the more things you will know, the more that you learn, the more places you will go’ — I decided I had to at least try something”.

With encouragement and fundraising templates provided by RAR, she began her campaign. In addition to her GoFundMe account, she also scheduled an ice cream social and invited “investors” in her community to attend in order to raise money for her program materials.   She shared the cost of the materials so donors could see exactly how their donations would being spent. She encouraged all donors, parents, friends, and others in her community to spread the word.

In less than three weeks, not only did Carol meet her goal of $1,782, but she exceeded it by more than $200 raising a total of $2,056! Carol decided to not only donate the excess funds to RAR, but contribute an additional $100 of her own money for a total donation of $300, which she requests be given to similar affiliate programs struggling to find funds to update their materials.

We not only celebrate Carol for her continued commitment to RAR for more than 10 years, but view her as an inspiration for all RAR programs struggling to locate funding in order to sustain and update their program materials. “Children have special and unique qualities, and it is our job as educators to assist with exploring and enhancing these talents. Education goes beyond the classroom. Education is nature, hygiene, literacy, playing, equality, nurturing, and emotions. For children, everything is education so we must look at things through their eyes with curiosity, excitement and adventure. Raising A Reader helps teachers, caregivers, and families achieve this goal.”

Carol’s Tiny Tots is located in Charleston, North Carolina serving twelve children in her program spanning ages seven months to four years. For more information about her program, visit her website at carolstinytots.com.

Business Behind the Books

Low on funding for your RAR program?

Online fundraising is a great way to overcome funding challenges that limit access to updated and replacement books and bags. Facebook is a popular outlet for many organizations to promote not only their organization, but funding projects as well. GoFundMe is one of the most popular public online platforms that makes the process of fundraising online simple and relatively low-cost. DonorsChoose.org is specifically geared towards teachers and classroom all over the United States that allows anyone around the world to support a classroom of their choice.

Anytime you decide to embark on an online donor campaign, it is important to remember that setting up your platform is the first step; the most important step is to help spread the news by encouraging staff members, parents, stakeholders, and others in your community to share your donor website so that your cause can spread virally.

Carol Williams, owner of Carol’s Tiny Tots (a RAR Affiliate since 2008) recently raised more than $2,000 by sharing a copy of her RAR quote so that potential donors could see exactly what items she needed for her program. She also hosted an ice cream social so potential donors could see her program space, look at her old, worn-down RAR materials and obtain more information about how their donations would serve her children. The more specific your donation request is, the more willing donors are to support your cause. If you need help setting up an online donation platform, or would like coaching/brainstorming assistance, reach out to Heather Deno to set up a one-on-one session.

Click/Ladybug Magazines

Interested in materials you can distribute to children during summer or other holiday breaks, used as “out-of-school-time” activities, or given away during Blue Bag Events? Click, LadyBug and BabyBug booklets are wonderful reading material that children can keep and share with families and caregivers.

Click Booklets are STEM themed and appropriate for ages 3-6, LadyBug booklets are appropriate for ages 3-6 as well but more focused on storytelling and activities, and BabyBug booklets are appropriate for ages 0-2. LadyBug and BabyBug booklets are also available in Spanish. Cricket Media retails these items for $6.95 each, but with a special offering through Raising a Reader, you can purchase 100 booklets for $75. Reach out to Heather Deno, Director of Business Development and Brand, for more information or to request a sample of the booklet you are interested in. You can also purchase these items directly on the RAR order site HERE.


On July 1, Raising A Reader will implement a modest price increase in order to cover increasing costs associated with providing the high-quality and award-winning multi-cultural children’s books and materials that are a hallmark of our program. This is the first time in five years that we have implemented a price increase. We are excited to provide even more support over the coming weeks and months including additional training and learning opportunities (in person and webinar), more focused technical support and improved customer service offerings, as well as strategic support to help you expand and fundraise for your program.

We will honor all orders placed by June 29, 2018 with our current pricing. Any orders placed July 2, 2018 onward will be subject to our modest price increase. For any questions or concerns, please contact Heather Deno at hdeno@raisingareader.org  or 765-430-1555.

Live Coordinator Training

July 31-Aug 1 CA
Aug 7-8   NC
Oct 9-10  CA

Online Coordinator Training

Sept  13    Register


June 28
Register HERE

Join us for an overview of RAR’s new order site and more!

September 20
2018 Fall Webinar

November 15
2018 Winter Webinar

Miss a webinar? Catch up HERE.

Use It or Lose It

The end of the fiscal year for many affiliates is coming to a close on June 30. Make sure to look over all buckets of funding in your budgets to see if there are extra monies that can be used to purchase RAR materials – even if you recently “refreshed”, with excess funds you can amp up your inventory of materials. Blue Bags and books never expire!

OPEN NOW: Café Press and Lands’ End Storefront

Want to order items featuring the Raising A Reader logo for yourself, your staff, or as gifts and prizes? Visit Lands’ End and Cafe Press today!

Welcome to our New Affiliates!

San Carlos, CA
Star Vista

Walnut Grove, CA
River Delta First 5 School Readiness

Granby, CO
Granby Elementary

Ridgeway, CO
Ridgeway Elementary

Oklahoma City, OK
Oklahoma City Public Schools

Shout Out

Shout out to Hancock Public Schools in New Cumberland, West Virginia! They are a new affiliate who began their RAR program in April 2018 with a unique program model offering the RAR program through the local food pantry. Not only does the program address physical hunger in children, but book/literacy hunger as well! This program was not only chosen by the West Virginia Campaign for Grade-Level Reading as a feature literacy program at their recent conference in April, but they were also chosen by the National Campaign as a Bright Spot for their innovative approach to addressing early childhood literacy. Great job Erica Sauer, RAR Coordinator for Hancock Public Schools! For more information about their program approach, you can reach out to Erica directly at esauer@k12.wv.us.