Around 1997, a group of early childhood leaders in San Mateo County, CA connect to discuss how to further early literacy in their community and create a committee to develop a plan. By 1998, funding is secured to launch a campaign called Raising A Reader, a take-home Book Bag Program. A pilot of the program targets child care centers (children ages 3 and 4) launches on March 3, 1999 and reaches over 500 families. Formal training, The Art of Reading, is designed and implemented in the spring for participants and staff in the community.
With high demands for the Book Bag Program in the community, revisions are planned to expand the scope of this program beyond child care centers. The program will be revised to include children ages 0 – 4 at child care centers, family day care and parent groups – anywhere that families may come together on a regular basis. The system created allowed for expansion – if child care systems or other groups wish to purchase the program with their own funding sources.
Raising A Reader® formally began in 1999 within a partnership of the San Mateo County Library and Peninsula Community Foundation’s Peninsula Partnership. Through the support of Peninsula Community Foundation’s Center for Venture Philanthropy it quickly became an independent 501(c3), establishing 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. Raising A Reader maintains its status as a supporting organization of the larger merged organization. Although Raising A Reader operates largely independently of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, it is very proud to be one of the nation’s earliest examples of a successful venture philanthropy effort and of its ongoing relationship with Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
Throughout the year, stories will be shared that highlight the children and families that have been impacted by the program and the organizations that have brought Raising A Reader to their communities. Join us to raise the next millionth readers.