Promotes children's literacy through shared reading experiences.
Everybody Wins! DC (EW!DC) is a non-profit organization devoted to promoting children’s literacy and a love of learning through shared reading experiences with caring individuals in low income public elementary schools located in the Washington DC Metropolitan Area. The mission of EW!DC is to pair at-risk students with Reading Mentors to instill a love of reading and learning and foster a sense of self-esteem. The ideas behind the mission can bring about profound change in the lives of young students; expose children to literature; give them a positive role model; and inspire them to read.
EW!DC is comprised of three different programs; adult reading mentors, StoryTime and Power Lunch. Approximately 4,000 students are impacted through the three different programs. However, more students are reached in the StoryTime programs, which are generally geared towards a school’s entire third or fourth grade class. The greatest impact comes from the adult mentor, child programs and books distribution. Students give up recess and/or lunch to be there. Most of the students involved are older partners who were once younger partners.
- Mission | Theory Of Change
EW!DC’s theory of change is portrayed in their mission to reach young children and help transform their lives through reading, opening the doors to their future. The programs are based on the belief that the most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. The Power Lunch program benefits children academically, as well as socially, bringing a diverse selection of literature into the schools and pairing students with caring adult readers who serve as Reading Mentors. Additionally, the Readers are Leaders program creates a unique peer mentoring relationship that benefits both the older student partner and mentee. As part of the Readers are Leaders program, the older students benefit from at least two leadership trainings per year. As Reading Mentors, the older students (grades 3-5) develop leadership skills through fun and innovative learning techniques while serving as a school-based anchor for the younger students both in-school and the community. The greatest strength of the programs is the positive connection that is created when a mentor and mentee bond to achieve a mutually enriching, one-on-one relationship built around the joy of reading.
- History | Track Record
Concerned about the nation’s illiteracy problem, Senator James Jeffords and Paul Simon, along with a bipartisan coalition of Senators and staff, helped launch EW!DC in 1995, serving 100 District of Columbia students at Brent Elementary School. EW!DC has entered its seventeenth year of service to at-risk youth with a stellar reputation for quality programs, strong fiscal management, creative partnership building, and meaningful outreach to schools and their communities. The programs link eager young minds with Reading Mentors who give an hour of their time each week to read and talk over the lunch hour. Over the past years, thousands of Reading Mentors from Capitol hill, government agencies, corporations, local businesses and other organizations have allowed EW!DC to serve more than 38,000 students and distribute more than 118,000 books for students to take home. The mentors promote reading for pleasure, serve as caring adult role models, build self-confidence and enhance self-esteem.
The organization tracks the number of hours the mentors donate and on average, the program logs 2,000-3,000 hours of reading each month.
- Grant Usage
A grant award from the One Percent Foundation will support the general operating costs associated with administering the programs. EW!DC focuses on sustaining existing programs, rather than aggressive expansion to new schools. EW!DC is constantly exploring long-term options, ideas and cultivating future partnerships to reduce the number of students on waitlists, who are eager to join EW!DC programs. The grant will also allow EW!DC to host additional training on leadership and service to older student partners, Reading Mentors in the Readers are Leaders program. As part of the program, Reading Mentors benefit from at least two leadership trainings per year. The focus of the trainings is Leadership Through Service. EW!DC staff provides seminars on the meaning of leadership by spotlighting the characteristics of a strong leader. The students also benefit from class trips as well as inspirational guest speakers. The focus of growth for EW!DC lies in reaching the eager students on waiting lists, as well as cultivating strong leaders in our community’s low income youth through reading and mentoring.
- Financial, Staffing, & Project Summary
EW!DC has 36 people on staff, 12 full -time and 24 part-time. Their total revenue in 2010 was $878,378 and the total expenditures $1,187,684, with a deficit of $309,306. This deficit was in part due to gifts that were pledged but not paid. During the current fiscal year, EW!DC hired consultants to revise their funding model, and as a result they now have 10 months of operating funds on reserve.
- Working Group Analysis
EW!DC serves a vital role in the DC metro area. Now in its 16th year of operations, EW!DC has had a quantifiable impact on the students they serve. Students who participate in EW!DC three reading programs benefit greatly, as their reading skills and self-esteem improve. The Power Lunch program effectively impacts low-income students in reading comprehension, motivation, achievement, as well as overall academic performance, classroom behavior, self-confidence and social skills. Teachers also reported that EW!DC students who read below grade level showed increased enthusiasm for books and improved both their academic performance and their classroom behavior. Other successes include students taking books home more often, being read to more often at home, increasing visits to the library and volunteering to read aloud in class more often. EW!DC mentors children to read for pleasure, improves students reading abilities and allows students opportunities for training, mentorship and personal development. The supportive and stable relationship of spending the time to read one hour a week, helps the younger students thrive socially and builds school and community relationships.
- Nominator Endorsement
Mark Kanarick: My roommate is a participant in the Power Lunch program, along with others who work with him for Senator Wyden. The organization has helped many children learn to read by offering a direct opportunity for volunteers to get involved. It's a simple idea, but an extremely valuable organization making a difference in my community.