Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California is the country’s largest RIF program. Our work to close the opportunity gap one book at a time empowers young minds to embrace the world of reading and develop a love of learning.
As of our 47th anniversary in 2019, we had served 1.6 million children and provided them with more than 5.3 million books.
Based on the large body of research that shows the importance of early reading experiences, our Motivational Reading Program targets children in Prek – 8th grade at schools with a high proportion of students from low-income families. We also place an emphasis on reaching children with special needs through non-school settings such as Cedars-Sinai COACH for Kids, Los Angeles Superior Courts (Probate and Family), Kid's Community Dental Clinic, East Vally Community Health Centers, and USC’s Violence Intervention Program. Of the over 60,000 children we will serve in 2019-2020, 96.5% are eligible for the National School Lunch Program, 23% are in Pre-K, 57% are in grades K - 3, 16% are in grades 4-8, and 4% have special needs. In the 2018-19 program year, 7,348 RIFSoCal volunteers conducted 755 motivational reading events, distributing 178,244 new books to 61,617 unduplicated children at 274 sites.
RIFSoCal’s strategic plan is focused on continuous expansion. Between 2013 and 2018 we grew by an astonishing 39%! In the 2018-2019 program year, our growth was highlighted by our continuing expansion to reach children in grades 4-8, and Los Angeles elementary schools were able to provide new books to their entire school population (grades Pre-K - 6).
In 2019-2020, to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school, we addressed the School Readiness gap that separates disadvantaged children from their more affluent peers. By expanding our outreach high-poverty pre-Schools and Early Learning Centers we increased the number of children ages 0-5 in our Motivational Reading Program to 14,000.
And, since 2014 we have served almost every PreK - 8th-grade student in the city of El Monte. Standardized test scores for El Monte Students in grades 3-8th illustrate that our Motivational Radign Program clearly contributes to Literacy improvement; the percentage who met or excited the standards in English Language Arts and Literacy increased from 30% in 2015 to 40% in 2019.
The results of our May 2019 survey of school principals and site coordinators clearly demonstrate the impact of the Motivational Reading Program:
99% believe the program has directly increased students' love of reading;
98% believe the program is an important literacy tool for the school;
94% believe the program has led to an increase in students' independent reading;
84% believe the program has increased parent involvement in their child's literacy development; and
79% believe the program has increased parent and community involvement in the school.
Sample comments include:
Students take great joy in building their personal library. They love having their own books.
The enjoyment of reading books has increased tremendously.
We serve low-income families, so children receiving books to start their own home library is huge. Parents and children reading together at events is the beginning of bringing literacy into their everyday lives.
The children I work with are reluctant readers; the program has changed this so many times.
The best thing about the RIF program is the building of community through literacy. It promotes a more committed collaborative relationship between the home and school.
We are humbled to share an excerpt of a beautifully written letter by a RIF alumna:
Reading is synonymous with my personality. Books are my passion, my profession, my identity. I firmly believe that without individuals and programs like RIF, my passion for books, and as a result, my life path, could have taken a different turn.
That day where I chose my book and wrote my name inside was one step in many that have led me to be the reader, free thinker, and librarian I am today. I am so happy to be a “RIF Kid” and grateful that the program is still making a difference in children’s lives today. I’ll end with a quote from Children’s Author and literacy advocate Frank Serafini, “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.”
Thank you, RIF, for finding me and other children the right books, it changed my life.
-- Carly Lamphere, RIFSoCal Board Member, Reference Librarian II, Crowell Public Library