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 1.3 million free children's books in our 15 years.

Research shows that babies begin learning rapidly at birth. Brain growth and development are greatest during a child's first three years. Healthy stimulation and bonding come through parents reading, talking, singing, and playing with their babies.

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 hear 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.
 
In our vision, 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
 
Projected Revenue $844,956.00
Projected Expenses $825,456.00
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 1.3 million free children's books in our 15 years.

Research shows that babies begin learning rapidly at birth. Brain growth and development are greatest during a child's first three years. Healthy stimulation and bonding come through parents reading, talking, singing, and playing with their babies.

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 hear 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.
 
In our vision, 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 12 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 $900,000 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 15 years, Read to Grow relies on the support of volunteers, individual donors, partner hospitals, businesses, and foundations.

Impact
ACCOMPLISHMENT #1:  Since June 2014, we have started formal collaborations with dozens of other nonprofits that already serve families living in need and at risk to establish 23 Book Places and 12 Partnerships.  At Book Places, which are hosted by other nonprofits, families who receive services at those host sites and families who live in the surrounding communities have easy access to visit and select books for their children to keep at home. Literacy information is also offered at these places.
Through Partnerships,  Read to Grow also collaborates with other agencies, adding an early childhood literacy component to services they already provide directly to families.
IMPACT OF ACCOMPLISHMENT #1: We have reached directly more than 12,000 people in the first 13 months of these new collaborations. These collaborations will continue to strengthen, and we plan literacy workshops for both staff of the nonprofits and the client families.
 
ACCOMPLISHMENT #2:  In the last year, Read to Grow has expanded the Book for Babies program to more primary care centers so that both pregnant mothers and families with 2-month-old babies will learn about the importance of early language skills for their children. They also receive books so that, even at a young age, their children can have "home libraries" of their own.
IMPACT OF ACCOMPLISHMENT #2: More families with young children who don't have the means to buy books are not only getting books but are also learning about the significance of reading and talking with their infants.
 
ACCOMPLISHMENT #3:  Through the hiring of Read to Grow's first bilingual staff member, we are more integrated into communities of families who are primarily Spanish-speaking and in need of children's books and literacy services.
 
ACCOMPLISHMENT #4: For both our Books for Babies program and our Books for Kids program, we have instituted more surveys and data-gathering systems that will help us measure our efficacy and will provide more meaningful measurements to funders and potential funders.
 
ACCOMPLISHMENT #5:  Over the last year, we have continued to supply Literacy Packets to more than 52% percent of all families with newborns in Connecticut. We do this at our 12 partner hospitals. Also, more than 23% of those families opt to remain in our Books for Babies program and receive two more free books during their babies' first year.
Needs

1) Funding for the Books for Babies program within our 12 partner hospitals in Connecticut: $140,000. (This does not represent the total amount of money needed to run the hospital-based program.)

2) Additional workshop materials, bookcases, and new bilingual and multi-cultural children's books for our Book Places and Partnerships: $45,000

3) Part-time staff  for development and marketing work at the Read to Grow office: $35,000
 
4)  Funding to initiate a project to develop prenatal interventions so that families expecting babies can learn about the importance of early childhood language skills and can begin acquiring children's books: $10,000
 
5) Improvements for our van, which now does regular and frequent deliveries to: 12 hospitals; 23 Book Places; and 12 other nonprofits with which we are formally partnered.  This same vehicle also is used for numerous pick-ups of used book throughout the state: $5,000 
 
CEO Statement

The first step to literacy is developing good language skills. Strong language skills 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 literary 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.  Our programs serve families living in town and cities, from Bridgeport and New Haven to Middletown, Hartford, New London, Putnam, Sharon, and many others. 
Programs
Description Books for Babies is a program that builds literacy from birth. Books for Babies reaches over 52% of Connecticut newborns and their families annually in partnership with 12 hospitals in the Greater New Haven, Hartford, Bridgeport, Manchester New London, Sharon, Middletown, Norwalk, Putnam, and Derby. Through Books for Babies, we connect with parents of newborns while on the maternity unit. Trained volunteers visit with parents to talk about early literacy development. Before discharge, each family receives a bag with a new children’s book and a guide that explains the many simple ways to stimulate their child’s language development. Families can receive free, new children’s books through the first year of life and information on how to help their child develop early literacy skills.
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.

Quote from parent:  “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.”

Another: “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!  Then you for informing me of the importance." (3 month survey)
Description
Books for Kids provides new and gently used books to children of all ages who need them and to programs that serve children and their families.  Through two new collaborations -- Book Places and Partnerships -- we focus on reaching more families living in poverty. Last year, we distributed more than 150,000 books through the Books for Kids.  More and more, we are purchasing new bilingual Spanish-English books to meet the demand of Hispanic populations in Connecticut's urban centers.
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 50% 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 75
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 Babies Hospital Coordinator
Experience/Biography
As an RN, Ms. Russo was a newborn intensive care specialist responsible for patients, post-partum education and coordinating volunteer services.  She has direct experience counseling new mothers about literacy and coordinates training activities for all hospital-based literacy volunteers.
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 Coordinator
Title Books for Kids Associate
Title Development Associate
Title Books for Babies Associate
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 permanent Book Places, we collaborate with 23 nonprofits that serve as host sites. They are located throughout the state but largely in the New Haven, Hartford, Bridgeport, New London, Manchester, and Middletown areas.  Also, through our formal Partnerships collaborations, we work with 12 entities, among them 6 different nonprofits that operate within the statewide Nurturing Families Network.
   

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
Board Chair
Roxanne J Coady
Company Affiliation RJ Julia Booksellers
Term July 2000 to June 2018
Email rjcoady@rjjulia.com
Board of Directors
NameAffiliation
Joanne Cunard Ph.D.St Joseph College
Mary Kay Curtiss Blum Shapiro Co
Jennifer Groves Fusco Updike, Kelly & Spellacy
Tom Gullotta
Jeff Hartmann The Hartmann Group
Carla Horwitz Calvin Hill Day Care Center
Julia Irwin Ph.D.Haskins Laboratories
Lisa Maass Citizens Bank
Bonnie Patten
Karen Pritzker Seedlings Foundation
Sandra Trevino Junta for Progressive Action
John Wolter Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C.
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 12
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 3
Female 10
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
Program / Program Planning
Board Governance
 
 
Financials
Fiscal Year Start July 01 2015
Fiscal Year End June 30 2016
Projected Revenue $844,956.00
Projected Expenses $825,456.00
Spending Policy Income Only
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 Year201420132012
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
$674,202$552,806$538,963
Government Contributions$0$0$0
Federal------
State------
Local------
Unspecified------
Individual Contributions------
------
$70,031$76,485$70,140
Investment Income, Net of Losses$714$829$1,569
Membership Dues------
Special Events$44,811$61,104$4,865
Revenue In-Kind------
Other($971)$3,556($3,038)
Prior Three Years Expense Allocations Chart
Fiscal Year201420132012
Program Expense$576,256$680,521$653,612
Administration Expense$53,630$60,836$69,008
Fundraising Expense$72,639$82,121$56,150
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.120.840.79
Program Expense/Total Expenses82%83%84%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue10%13%10%
Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities Chart
Fiscal Year201420132012
Total Assets$594,746$507,089$643,374
Current Assets$510,926$459,577$586,058
Long-Term Liabilities------
Current Liabilities$15,197$13,802$21,387
Total Net Assets$579,549$493,287$621,987
Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201420132012
Top Funding Source & Dollar AmountSeedlings Foundation $125,000Seedlings Foundation $88,699United Way of Coastal Fairfield County $36,271
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountUnited Way of Coastal Fairfield County $39,000United Way of Coastal Fairfield County $38,600Seedlings Foundation $35,200
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar AmountMJ & Caral G Lebworth Foundation $30,000Hartford Hospital $30,000Pitney Bowes Literacy Foundation $15,000
Solvency
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities33.6233.3027.40
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201420132012
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capitial Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Comments
CEO Comments The difference between income and expense of $19,500 reflects fully the value of new, donated books that Read to Grow received, in large part, to answer increased demand for books arising from our initiatives to reach more low-income families, many of them primarily Spanish-speaking.
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

 

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