After six years of asking adults to read with children at least 20 minutes a day, Read 20 is now asking businesses to help deliver that message to employees.
Read 20, which is a public/private partnership promoting literacy skills for early childhood, is beginning a new program to invite businesses to help promote the importance of reading with children at least 20 minutes a day. The program kicks off on Thursday at a gathering of AT&T retirees and employees, where AT&T and Village Volkswagen of Chattanooga will challenge other area businesses to join them in welcoming Read 20 and the ReadMobile to their work places.
At the Thursday event, AT&T is also making a $5,000 donation to help Read 20 buy books. Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger will be on hand to thank AT&T and its employees for their support. Read 20's Stewart Payne will bring the ReadMobile and read aloud to the gathering. Later in May, the ReadMobile will visit Village Volkswagen to share the message about reading aloud and give books to Village Volkswagen employees and customers.
"We appreciate AT&T's support for the important work of preparing our children for the jobs of the 21st century," said Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger. "Make no mistake about it... reading to children is economic development. It's easier to see the connection with large initiatives, like providing employee training for new companies or creating a STEM education program. But reading is the foundation for all of these efforts."
"AT&T is proud to provide 200,000 books to children in Hamilton County," said Mary Stewart Lewis, AT&T regional director, external and legislative affairs. Since 2006, Read 20 has given away more than 208,213 books, valued at over $1,873,917. National partnerships allow Read 20 to buy children's books for as little as 25 cents to $2.50 per book. "We'd like to see every business in Hamilton County join us is supporting Read 20's mission, either by investing in Read 20 or by helping us promote reading to their employees. The workplace is a great way to reach busy working parents."
This campaign to engage businesses is the first time the organization has appealed directly to the business community. "We piloted this business outreach with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee last year and now with AT&T and Village Volkswagen," said Read 20's chief reading officer, Shawn Kurrelmeier-Lee. "Now that we feel comfortable with what we are asking businesses to do, we're rolling out the program. We will establish a schedule of return visits to those work places we have already visited and add more companies."
Read 20 is a public/private partnership promoting literacy skills for early childhood, in an effort to create a community of readers, and in support of Hamilton County's community literacy goals.
Since it was created in 2006, Read 20 has interacted with over 102,506 children, confirmed at least 40,123 adults reading with children every day and provided resources and training for 1,977 teachers in area public schools and day cares.