Jo’s Letter

Dear Friends,

As I write this I just signed a lease for office space that’s double the size of our current space and will  hold twice as many desks and more book shelves. We’re happily staying in Harlem and looking forward to more partnerships within the community. We’ll finish up the school year having served 45 classrooms through 166 workshops, so you can imagine how many class books we have in production. Over the summer, we’re redesigning our web site which will launch September.


As the Common Core Standards have become integrated into school curricula, we get more requests for nonfiction programs and we’re very excited because this means we’re doing more research projects than ever before. We bring in volunteers to help students research and begin drafting their writing. I never tire of seeing the kids in deep discussion with our volunteers, learning about a variety of life paths and meeting new people who support our programs in the classroom. “So what does it take to be a lawyer?” was one of my favorite questions from a fourth grader this year.

7th grade boy

Even with this new emphasis, our focus remains the same: engaging students in reading and writing. At a recent book publishing party at CS 21 in Bed Stuy, a crowd of parents supported their children as they strutted their stuff down a red carpet and exchanged autographs. I could tell by the proud look on students’ faces that they felt they had succeeded, and I know they’ll be able to draw from this experience the next time they’re faced with a challenge.

We have recommitted to working with Youth, I.N.C. again this year. Last year, our first, their Celebration program gave our board new tips for fundraising and we raised double our goal. This year’s celebration will be on November 18th at the Waldorf so watch for your invitation.

None of this could happen without each and every one of you. Every donation–from your time, to a $5 donation to a $5,000 donation–goes towards our kids and books for them. Thank you for helping us to continue growing and changing to meet the needs of our students.

I hope you have a wonderful summer and keep reading!

Jo Umans

Executive Director


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