Read to Grow
53 School Ground Road
Unit #3
Branford CT 06405
Contact Information
Address 53 School Ground Road
Unit #3
Branford, CT 06405-
Telephone (203) 488-6800 x
Fax 203-488-7735
E-mail readtogrow@readtogrow.org
Web and Social Media

Mission

The mission of Read to Grow is to promote language skills and literacy for children, beginning at birth, and to support parents as their babies' first teachers.

We operate with two programs: Books for Babies and Books for Kids, and have given more than 1.5 million free children's books in our 17 years.

Research shows that babies begin learning rapidly at birth. Brain growth and development are greatest during a child's first three years.  Parents who regularly read, talk, sing, and play with their babies help them develop language and pre-literacy skills that are necessary to be successful in school.

Census data show that close to a quarter of American children live in poverty or near-poverty. By age 3, many children in low-income homes have not heard enough words to be prepared for success in school. Some have heard as many as 30 million fewer words than have children in higher-income homes. Also, of children struggling to learn to read in 1st grade, nearly 90% will be poor readers in 4th grade, when reading to learn is essential.
 
Our vision is that every family -- regardless of income, race and primary language -- will understand the critical importance of early childhood literacy and will take an active role in their child's reading development. Also, all children in Connecticut will have books of their own.
At A Glance
Year of Incorporation 2000
Organization's type of tax exempt status Public Supported Charity
Organization received a competitive grant from the community foundation in the past five years Yes
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Kyn Tolson
Board Chair Roxanne J Coady
Board Chair Company Affiliation RJ Julia Booksellers
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expenses Bar Graph - All Years
Statements
Mission

The mission of Read to Grow is to promote language skills and literacy for children, beginning at birth, and to support parents as their babies' first teachers.

We operate with two programs: Books for Babies and Books for Kids, and have given more than 1.5 million free children's books in our 17 years.

Research shows that babies begin learning rapidly at birth. Brain growth and development are greatest during a child's first three years.  Parents who regularly read, talk, sing, and play with their babies help them develop language and pre-literacy skills that are necessary to be successful in school.

Census data show that close to a quarter of American children live in poverty or near-poverty. By age 3, many children in low-income homes have not heard enough words to be prepared for success in school. Some have heard as many as 30 million fewer words than have children in higher-income homes. Also, of children struggling to learn to read in 1st grade, nearly 90% will be poor readers in 4th grade, when reading to learn is essential.
 
Our vision is that every family -- regardless of income, race and primary language -- will understand the critical importance of early childhood literacy and will take an active role in their child's reading development. Also, all children in Connecticut will have books of their own.
Background

The idea of Read to Grow began in 1998 when Connecticut shoreline residents, RJ Julia Booksellers and Fair Haven Community Health Center joined forces to collect more than 12,000 books for children who had none of their own.

Since incorporation in 2000, Read to Grow has brought the flagship program, Books for Babies, to 14 hospitals and to primary care centers for low-income families. It has also created Books for Kids as a literacy continuum program, providing books statewide to children, families, caregivers, teachers, community groups, other nonprofits, and anyone interested in reading for children.
 
Currently with a $1,000,000 annual budget, Read to Grow strengthens these time-tested programs. Today, with two new types of collaborations (Book Places and Partnerships), we are able to better focus our education for parents and our book distributions on families living in poverty.
 
As we have over the last 17 years, Read to Grow relies on the support of volunteers, individual donors, partner hospitals, businesses, and foundations.

Impact

Accomplishment #1:

In the fall of 2016, our Prenatal Project (as part of our Books for Babies program) was launched at Fair Haven Community Health Center in New Haven. We now have collaborations with two other health centers in Connecticut, and three more are in the wings. In all the partnerships, pregnant women who receive services at the health centers participate in our literacy workshops, which have become part of prenatal group sessions already offered at the centers. Read to Grow gives resource materials (available in Spanish), including baby board books (in English or bilingual English-Spanish), and presentations in one or two of the classes. By the end of the sessions, the women have numerous literacy handouts and up to six new baby books. 

Accomplishment #2:

On July 1, 2017, the Books for Babies program was approved to expand into William Backus Hospital in Norwich and Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington. All families of newborns at those hospitals will be given our literacy packets and will learn from volunteers about the critical importance of developing their babies’ pre-literacy skills—starting from birth. With the addition of these two hospitals, we will be in 14 hospitals, reaching more than 60% of all babies born in Connecticut. Read to Grow’s first partner-hospital was Yale New Haven, where are Books for Babies program still thrives.

Accomplishment #3:

During the 2017 summer, our Books for Kids program is partnering with the United Way of Greater New Haven. We’ve joined their Mobile Food Pantry at the John Martinez School in New Haven. During four days, we are at the school, offering free children’s books and information to families who come for food at the Mobile Food Pantry and at the Connecticut Food Bank mobile truck. The former offers children and families hot meals on-site. The latter provides them groceries to take home. 

Since 2014, Read to Grow has partnered with the CT Food Bank’s GROW! (Grocery on Wheels) Truck, a mobile food program, to add an early childhood literacy component to their special services for Head Start families and other low-income parents with young children.  

Before the families board the mobile food pantry they attend a workshop. Our bilingual presentations focus on childhood literacy. We teach parents about the importance of regularly reading to their children and provide instruction on how to share books and have fun.


Needs

1)     Funds for the Books for Babies program with our 14 partner hospitals in Connecticut.

 

2) Funds for the purchase of bilingual and multi-cultural children’s books and board books.

3) Funds for new computers and phone equipment at our Branford, CT office.

CEO Statement

The first step to literacy is developing good language skills. Language skills at kindergarten entry are among the best predictors of later reading and writing abilities and even success in school.

Reading aloud exposes babies to words and speech and helps build good language skills early on. Read to Grow is the only statewide organization to connect with parents of newborns in the hospitals, giving them the resources that will allow them to make the most of the critical early years. We hope that their children will enter school ready to learn to read, grow and thrive.

Board Chair Statement

From Roxanne Coady, Board Chair:

It is exhilarating to realize the progress made in Connecticut in the 15 years since Read to Grow was founded. The amount of time, attention, energy, and understanding about the importance of the years from birth on has increased exponentially. We are proud to have been a part of the change. And we admire all those who have worked so hard to make this change. Imagine—a Connecticut Office of Early Childhood!
 
As James Heckman, the Nobel laureate and economist who has done significant research on early childhood education, said, “Skill begets skill, and early skill acquisition makes later skill acquisition easier. Remedial programs in the adolescent and young adult years are much more costly in producing the same level of skill attainment in adulthood. Most are economically inefficient."
 
In a world of scarce resources, we must remain committed to preventive steps. The enormous benefit of helping our children from birth is inescapable. At Read to Grow, we have distributed more than 1.3 million books, and we have offered literacy information, resources and workshops whenever and wherever we are able.
 
Despite the achievements and successes, much remains to be done. We would like to be partnered with all hospitals in Connecticut, so that we can reach 100% of all families with newborns. We want all babies and their parents to have our Literacy Packets, each of which contains a baby's first book and a guide for parents.  We would also like to form still more collaborations with other nonprofits, so that Read to Grow will deliver books and information to more families who need our services. 
Service Categories
Primary Organization Category Education / Educational Services
Secondary Organization Category Health Care / Health Support
Tertiary Organization Category Youth Development /
Areas Served
State wide
Cheshire
Derby
East Haven
Guilford
Hamden
Lower Naugatuck Valley
Madison
Milford
New Haven
North Branford
North Haven
Orange
Oxford
Seymour
Shelton
Shoreline
Wallingford
West Haven
Woodbridge
Ansonia
Read to Grow provides children's books and early literacy resources to families throughout Connecticut.  
 
Books for Babies operates in 14 hospitals across the state.  They are located in Bridgeport, Derby, Hartford, Manchester, Middletown, New Haven, New London, Norwich, Putnam, Sharon and Torrington.
 
Books for Kids operates 31 Book Places and 13 Partnerships in all 6 counties in Connecticut.
Programs
Description
Books for Babies reaches over 58% of Connecticut newborns and their families annually in partnership with 14 hospitals including three in New Haven and Derby. Trained volunteers visit with parents of newborns while they are on the maternity unit to talk about early literacy development.  Before discharge, each family receives a literacy packet including a new baby board book and a literacy guide that explains the importance of talking, singing, and sharing books with baby, beginning at birth to foster language development. Families can register to receive more literacy information and new, free children’s books when their babies are 3 months old and 12 months old.
 
The Prenatal Project supports pregnant women who receive care at community health centers.  We add literacy component to existing prenatal group information sessions and distribute new baby board books. By the end of the session, pregnant women will have numerous literacy handouts and up to six new baby books.
 
Population Served Infants to Preschool (under age 5) / At-Risk Populations / Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service.
85% of parents report the literacy packet given at birth was helpful and that they learned new information about how their child develops.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state.

It has been shown that the achievement gap is evident by the time children begin kindergarten. It has also been shown that children who have been read to do better in school, regardless of socio-economic background.

Parent surveys are administered at 3 and 12 months and show:

 

  •  90% of families learn new information from literacy guide
  •  85% of families learn new ways to help their baby learn
  •  80% of families learn about their baby’s development
  • 90% of families read the book given by Read to Grow to their baby

 

Results: parents embrace message of early literacy development and create a home environment that encourages learning.
Long term:children develop vocabulary and pre-literacy skills and enter school ready to learn to read.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact.
Parent surveys are completed at three months and twelve months during the Books for Babies program first year. 
Examples of Program SuccessHelpOrganization's site specific examples of changes in clients' behaviors or testimonies of client's changes to demonstrate program success.

A recent examination of the Books for Babies program conducted by Beth Osborne Daponte, Ph.D., Social Science Consultants and review of the literature suggest that the program is well-designed and well implemented. The literature review strongly suggests that the program could have substantial impact on the lives of the families with which it interacts. If even a small portion of families that the program interacts with act upon the Books for Babies message, then the program would have a real and lasting effect.

Quotes from parents:

 “I think {Read to Grow} is a great program. As a first grade teacher, I get to see the huge difference between children who are read to/with and those who are not. Thank you for the books.”
 
“Read to Grow has been extremely helpful.  The information included in the packet helped me to understand the importance of reading to baby from birth."
 
"First time mom.  I had no idea what I was doing.  He loves to look at books while I read to him!  Thank you for informing me of the importance." (3 month survey)
 
(Translated from Spanish) "I love this program because it helps me to understand my baby more and I read to the baby a lot because I learned more about the importance of reading and talking to my baby, before I would not have done it.  Thanks."
Description
Books for Kids provides new and gently used books to children of all ages and to programs that serve children and their families.  Through two collaborations -- Book Places and Partnerships -- we focus on reaching families living in poverty.

BFK Partnerships are formal relationships with home visitors, home daycare providers, and other agencies that provide services to low-income families. We add a literacy component to their programs by providing gently used books and newly purchased bilingual English-Spanish books that are given to the children that they serve.

BFK Book Places/Rincónes del Libro are situated at collaborative agencies’ sites (mostly Family Resource Centers) where families already being served, or living in the neighborhood, can go to choose age-appropriate children’s books to keep at home. 

Families and organizations can also contact the office to receive books. Our BFK Coordinators work  hard to provide appropriate books that will engage the children.

Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) / At-Risk Populations / Poor,Economically Disadvantaged,Indigent
Program is linked to organization’s mission and strategy Yes
Program is frequently assessed based on predetermined program goals Yes
Short Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe near term achievement(s) or improvement(s) that will result from this program. This may represent immediate outcomes occurring as a result of the end of a session or service. Every year we see an increase in the number of families requesting books through this program, and in the number of books distributed throughout the state.
Long Term SuccessHelpOrganizations describe the ultimate change(s) that will result from this program. This may be far into the future and represent an ideal state. Studies have shown that age-appropriate books in the home are one of the most important pieces for children to become successful readers. We also know from research studies that almost 61% of low-income families do not own children's books.  We ultimately hope to increase the number of children who are successful readers by the end of third grade when reading to learn begins. Ultimately we will see a significant reduction in the drop-out rate, juvenile delinquency, teenage pregnancy, crime, reliance on special education and welfare. Successful readers will become productive citizens.
Program Success Monitored ByHelpOrganizations describe the tools used to measure or track program impact. The program is measured by the number of book requests, the number of books distributed and the number of book drives and books collected.
Program Comments
CEO Comments
Our Books for Babies early literacy program currently serves over 58% of all babies born in CT.  Our goal is to reach 100% of all newborns and to prepare their parents to take an active role in their child's literacy development from day one. To help parents create a language-rich environment in which children can develop those critical early skills, we provide books to families and the programs that serve them.  Program expansion to other hospital settings is dependent upon financial resources.  We have received many inquiries from hospitals that are eager to offer the early literacy program to their new families but are challenged by a lack the resources. 
CEO/Executive Director
Ms. Kyn Tolson
Term Start Jan 2014
Email ktolson@readtogrow.org
Experience Ms. Tolson was previously director for Outreach for Haiti. She worked at The Day newspaper in New London for many years and was the deputy managing editor there. During years in journalism, she also worked for Associated Press in NYC.
Staff
Number of Full Time Staff 2
Number of Part Time Staff 7
Number of Volunteers 70
Staff Retention Rate 100%
Staff Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 7
Hispanic/Latino 2
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Staff Demographics - Gender
Male 1
Female 8
Unspecified 0
Former CEOs and Terms
NameTerm
Anthony DiLauro Aug 2011 - Apr 2013
Susanne Santangelo Mar 2007 - Mar
Senior Staff
Title Books for Kids Coordinator
Experience/Biography
Ms. Sylvester holds a MS in Early Intervention for Special Needs Infants and Toddlers from Wheelock College.  She worked for the State of CT, Board of Education and Services for the Blind as a preschool education consultant. She has been with Read to Grow since 2005.
Title Office Manager
Title Books for Kids Associate
Title Development Associate
Title Books for Babies Associate
Title Books for Babies Coordinator
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Collaborations

Through our two programs, Books for Babies (BfB) and Books for Kids (BfK), we have 62 formal collaborations with other nonprofits in Connecticut, many of them in the Greater New Haven area. In BfB, we’re partnered with three community health centers to give our books and services to pregnant women who receive their care at those centers. (The number of these types of collaborations should rise by at least five in the coming year.) In our BfK program, we have set up 33 Partnerships either to add or to augment a childhood literacy component to services they give to low-income, at-risk families.


Awards
Award/RecognitionOrganizationYear
Community Hall of FameWNET Channel Thirteen New York2008
Kids Are Our Business Service AwardClifford W. Beers Guidance Clinic2009
Mary Ives AwardNew Haven Free Public Library2008
Certificate of RecognitionNew Haven Public Schools - Office of Youth, Family and Community Engagement2016
IKEA Life Improvement Challenge AwardIKEA New Haven2016
21st Century Solutions Grant ChallengeNBCUniversal Foundation2015
Identified as an agency working to improve child literacy and to close the achievement gap.Connecticut KIDS COUNT (Annie E. Casey Foundation)2010
Comments
CEO Comments

Read to Grow has given more than 1.6 million children’s books over our 17 years. Today we distribute over 180,000 books annually and present dozens of workshops. We are involved in 62 formal partnerships with other nonprofits.

We do all our work with two full-time staff and seven part-time staff (who include our van driver). While our volunteer force is formidable—the volunteers number more than 60, many of whom have been with us for many years – we have reached a point where staff are working at maximum effort. Additional responsibilities would likely be harmful.

While Read to Grow has been improving its two programs, we are always looking for ways to be even better. Today we’re exploring a possible partnership with an international nonprofit to become an affiliate in New Haven for its outstanding program that builds early childhood literacy. We realize both the great promise of this project and its challenges, because Read to Grow will be responsible for raising all funds.

Board Chair
Roxanne J Coady
Company Affiliation RJ Julia Booksellers
Term July 2000 to June 2018
Board of Directors
NameAffiliation
Alicia Caraballo M.S.Retired
Lori Church M.S.
Joshua Copel M.D.Yale University
Joanne Cunard Ph.D.St Joseph College
Mary Kay Curtiss CPA, MSPABlum Shapiro Co
Jennifer Groves Fusco J.D.Updike, Kelly & Spellacy
Jeff Hartmann The Hartmann Group
Carla Horwitz Ph.DYale Child Study Center
Lisa Maass Citizens Bank
Bonnie Patten J.D.Truth in Advertising, Inc.
Karen Pritzker Seedlings Foundation
Sandra Trevino Junta for Progressive Action
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 11
Hispanic/Latino 2
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 2
Female 11
Risk Management Provisions
Directors and Officers Policy
Automobile Insurance
Accident and Injury Coverage
Standing Committees
Audit
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Executive
Finance
Board Governance
CEO Comments

Significant growth in the number of books and services provided by Read to Grow over the last three years has created the need for greater efficiencies. While our services have gone up, our budget has not risen comparably.

Since July 1, 2014, Read to Grow’s annual distribution of book has increased approximately 50%, from about 120,000 books to over 180,000. The demand for our services, including handouts and workshops, has also risen. The change can largely be attributed to the development of new, vital aspects within our two programs. These developments are based on partnerships with existing nonprofits.

In the last 3 years, our staff numbers have not grown, so program staff have done an extraordinary job both creating, managing and maintaining the new aspects of their programs. We have also strengthened our corps of volunteers.

Over the last three years, we have also been focusing on a clear articulation of our activities and goals so that we can better evaluate what we do and how we do it. This work also will help us to better present Read to Grow to donors and potential donors.

 
 
Financials
Fiscal Year Start July 01 2017
Fiscal Year End June 30 2018
Projected Revenue $1,024,550.00
Projected Expenses $1,024,550.00
Spending Policy N/A
Credit Line No
Reserve Fund No
Detailed Financials
Prior Three Years Revenue Sources ChartHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201620152014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$1,021,258$636,698$674,202
Government Contributions$0$0$0
Federal------
State------
Local------
Unspecified------
Individual Contributions------
------
----$70,031
Investment Income, Net of Losses$502$654$714
Membership Dues------
Special Events--$145,920$44,811
Revenue In-Kind------
Other--($2,681)($971)
Prior Three Years Expense Allocations Chart
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$867,707$644,597$576,256
Administration Expense$72,318$71,878$53,630
Fundraising Expense$69,326$82,962$72,639
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.010.981.12
Program Expense/Total Expenses86%81%82%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue7%11%10%
Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities Chart
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$584,482$577,757$594,746
Current Assets$506,265$498,660$510,926
Long-Term Liabilities------
Current Liabilities$11,370$17,054$15,197
Total Net Assets$573,112$560,703$579,549
Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountThe Seedling Foundation $125,000Seedlings Foundation $62,500Seedlings Foundation $125,000
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountUnited Way of Coastal Fairfield County $27,310Ronald McDonald House Charities of CT & Western Mass. $25,740United Way of Coastal Fairfield County $39,000
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountNBC Universal Foundation $25,000United Way of Coastal Fairfield County $28,000MJ & Caral G Lebworth Foundation $30,000
Solvency
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities44.5329.2433.62
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capitial Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Comments
CEO Comments

In establishing many partnerships with other nonprofits over the last three years, we’ve connected with more and more families who speak only Spanish in their homes. Because of the subsequent rise in demand for bilingual children’s books, we must purchase more new books for our inventory. (We don’t receive any gently used bilingual books in the approximately 70,000 books given to us every year.)

This new expense, along with our need to hire a second bilingual staff member, present financial challenges.

Foundation Staff Comments

This profile, including the financial summaries prepared and submitted by the organization based on its own independent and/or internal audit processes and regulatory submissions, has been read by the Foundation. Financial information is inputted by Foundation staff directly from the organization’s IRS Form 990, audited financial statements or other financial documents approved by the nonprofit’s board. The Foundation has not audited the organization’s financial statements or tax filings, and makes no representations or warranties thereon. The Community Foundation is continuing to receive information submitted by the organization and may periodically update the organization’s profile to reflect the most current financial and other information available. The organization has completed the fields required by The Community Foundation and updated their profile in the last year. To see if the organization has received a competitive grant from The Community Foundation in the last five years, please go to the General Information Tab of the profile.

 

Address 53 School Ground Road
Unit #3
Branford, CT 06405
Primary Phone 203 488-6800
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Kyn Tolson
Board Chair Roxanne J Coady
Board Chair Company Affiliation RJ Julia Booksellers

 

Related Information

Provide Quality Education

Educate a child and you change a community. For the child, a good education means better career opportunities and higher lifetime earnings. College graduates enjoy better health and are more inclined to volunteer and vote. For the community, supporting our youths’ educational goals results in a stronger society.

Nurture Children & Youth

When families, schools and communities take the view that children and youth are valued and respected assets to society, they necessarily support environments that nurture youth development. Children raised to embrace positive social values, to seek self-understanding, and to value their self-worth grow to become community-minded young adults with a sense of belonging and a belief in their resiliency. See how you can help our community's children grow into tomorrow's leaders.

Ensure Health & Wellness

A healthy community is a rich community. When we enjoy good health, when we engage in wellness activities – and when we support people living with disease or disabilities -- there are profound physical and psychological benefits. Simply put, we are all stronger and happier. To support the health and wellness initiatives in your community is to put good health within reach of all.