Spring 2014

Letter from the Executive Director

by: Dr. Gabrielle Miller

Though you’d never know it by watching the weather on the East Coast, spring is here. We are all shaking off the cobwebs of the winter, becoming energized, and excited by all the growth around us.

Raising A Reader is growing too, and I’m proud to say that we measure our growth not only in the numbers of children and families who participate but in the quality of our program and its impact, as you’ll read in this newsletter.

  • The national synthesis of data from affiliates demonstrated increases on all measures of program quality nationwide and all of which met or exceeded national quality standards.
  • An independent evaluation of RAR’s (15,000 child) expansion in Baltimore demonstrated that after only 4 months, more than 70% of the Head Start 4 year olds who participated in RAR showed statistically significant increases in oral language.
  • We are also very pleased to support growth in giving through Silicon Valley Gives– a first of its kind, 24 hour initiative-a kind of giving marathon—to both expand opportunities for individuals to donate and deepen the impact of that giving for nonprofits across Silicon Valley. This kind of initiative is, quite literally, in our DNA.

Fifteen years ago venture philanthropists who clearly understood that true growth was only the result of quality and impact founded Raising A Reader. Affiliates across the nation have joined with us and have made Raising A Reader the nation’s highest quality, highest impact family engagement and literacy program. We are very proud to remain true to that commitment and invite you to join us in being energized by the coming of Spring to continue to grow…with integrity.

By the Numbers

Nancy Yue, National Manager of Curriculum, Training and & Affiliate Relations

Raising A Reader had a successful programming year in 2013! The program saw significant expansion as we added new affiliates and grew our School Age program. There was also an increase in the diversity of participating children and affiliates showed improvement in program implementation fidelity. Every day that a Raising A Reader bag filled with books is in the home of a child, a magical and transformative experience takes place. Christie Speck from the Solano Community College Children’s Program stated, “One hundred thirty children and their parents participate in our RAR program weekly. A majority of the parents attended the workshops offered to promote daily reading. RAR was listed as a favorite family activity during the recent program evaluation. Recently a parent told me she and her son were on their way home after school when her son yelled, ‘STOP! We have to go back to school; I forgot my books.’ She told him she had things to do and wasn’t able to go back to school. Her son cried and said, ‘I need my red book pack.’ She realized at that moment the importance of the RAR program and turned the car around and headed back to school to retrieve the books.”

Below are some highlights based on the completed surveys from our most recent check-in.

In 2013:

  • The Raising A Reader national affiliate network was represented in 33 states + Washington, D.C.
  • There were 159 Raising A Reader Affiliates with a total of 2,751 Implementation Sites.
  • The implementation sites were in a variety of settings: family home daycares, child care centers, preschools, Head Starts, housing communities, home visiting programs, libraries, school districts, etc.
  • A total of 130,352 children were rotating red RAR bags into their homes and engaging in book cuddling routines with their families.
  • The largest age group that participated in RAR programs were 3-4 and PreK and the largest percentage of RAR programs were implemented in center-based preschools.
  • Raising A Reader families speak a variety of languages including: English, Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, Somali, Burmese, Navajo, and Portuguese.

Every October, Raising A Reader National reaches out to all of our Affiliates to complete the Annual Affiliate Check-In Survey. Data from the survey is used to evaluate program fidelity, help improve program quality, and provide further affiliate support.

Raising A Reader and Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Raising A Reader is proud to be one of the nation’s earliest examples of venture philanthropy. As Raising A Reader celebrates its 15th Anniversary, we are taking a look back at our history and our incredible relationship with the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF).

It was through the Peninsula Community Foundation’s Center for Venture Philanthropy that Raising A Reader was able to become an independent 501(c)3 and establish itself as a supporting organization of the Peninsula Community Foundation. In 2007, Peninsula Community Foundation and Community Foundation Silicon Valley merged to form Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which continues to be Raising A Reader’s parent organization.

SVCF has been instrumental in supporting Raising A Reader locally in San Mateo County and nationally as Raising A Reader continues to expand into new areas to serve the children and families that need us the most. In Silicon Valley, SVCF hosts Raising A Reader San Mateo County, acting as an affiliate partner and reaching more than 6,000 students and families annually.

This year, Raising A Reader is proud to support Silicon Valley Gives, an initiative launched by SVCF. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of community foundations, SV Gives will help raise money for local nonprofits through a single online donation platform, providing a great way to connect donors to the charitable causes they care about most and encourage them to take action.

Raising A Reader is very proud of its relationship with Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the shared local and national efforts to help families develop the habit of sharing books.

SV Gives

Join us on May 6th for a 24 hour online giving event hosted by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation! Make your pledge today! If you are in the Bay Area, come celebrate in person with a free storytime, activities and a book for all attendees!


Flower Garden
By: Eve Bunting


Just in time for Spring!  Flower Garden is a simple yet richly illustrated story, told in gentle rhyme, of a little girl and her father as they purchase a birthday surprise.  Follow the progress of this father and daughter as they select and purchase a “garden,” board the bus to carry it home and lovingly plant pansies, tulips, daffodils, geraniums, and daisies in a window box.  Anticipation builds as candles on the cake are lighted–just as Mom walks in the door to find her daughter, her husband, and her birthday surprise.

This book can be found in our current PreK African American Supplemental Set and is appropriate for ages 4-6.



This longitudinal study examines mother-child book-sharing interactions and children’s storytelling skills in low-income U.S. families who were African American, Dominican, Mexican, and Chinese. The results of this study highlight the cultural nature of mother-child book sharing interactions.
Read the full abstract here.

Current Partners

Always Dream Foundation
Bank of the West
Bernard A. Newcomb Foundation
Capital One Financial
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Cisco Systems Foundation
Community Foundation of the Monterey Peninsula
Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation
Harden Foundation
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Masons of CA
Masons of Oregon
Monterey Peninsula Foundation
Nancy Buck Ranson Foundation
Sobrato Family Foundation
T. Rowe Price
Audrey & Robert Talbott Foundation
Harry & Jeannette Weinberg Foundation
Wright Family Foundation

and individuals like you….