Most of our teens are initially attracted to our program for the scholarship component. Who could blame them? But we are not just a scholarship program. We are a leadership development, community development organization. So while every teen who applies to our program is in need of a scholarship, we are also looking for those who have a spark in them, a spark of creativity, of love for children, a potential for leadership and an ability to read.
The commitment that we expect from our teens is not small. They read to younger children for at least three hours a week and attend 15 workshops every year to learn about team work, communications skills, values and goal setting, how to lead a reading activity, how to handle life’s difficult decisions, how to open their eyes to the power they have to change the situation in which they live and to do their work with heart.
Interestingly, two sets of parents recently approached Daniel Guzman our Program Coordinator and asked him if their teens could participate in our program without receiving the scholarship! Apparently these families have enough money to educate their children but see the teens in our program have grown and see the value in their children participating. The value beyond the buck!
Our impact stretches far beyond the high school scholarship. Our teens are brining innovative literacy activities to young children. And they are leveraging their leadership skills to initiate community development projects that will change the trajectories of future generations. That’s an impact that parents want their teens to be a part of!
I don’t know if these teens will end up joining our program. What I do know is that it speaks volumes about the value of our Leaders & Readers program because it is attracting attention from parents who don’t need the scholarship but still value the learning and development process enough to ask if their children could benefit from it.
– Linda Smith, Founder & Executive Director of Reading Village