Raising a Reader

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Raising A Reader (RAR) is a national non-profit organization founded in 1999 focused on early child literacy and family engagement. Our mission is to engage caregivers in a routine of book sharing with their children from birth through age eight to foster healthy brain development, healthy relationships, a love of reading, and the literacy skills critical for school success. We offer three bilingual (English and Spanish) programs, our Classic Red Book Bag Program since 1999, and Super Summer Learning Adventures and Family Shared Reading Program since 2020. We maintain a diverse collection of over 3,000 books in 13 languages that reflect the lived and shared experiences of the children and families we serve, over 75% are from low-income backgrounds and identify as people of color.

RAR was one of the nation’s earliest venture philanthropy enterprises and remains one of the few cost-effective and scalable nonprofit organizations with an earned revenue model that has sustained its operations for more than twenty years. Approximately 50% of our budget is through earned revenue and the other 50% comes from contributed revenue from individuals and institutions.

RAR optimizes a train-the-trainer Affiliate model to maximize our impact. We equip local community-based organizations with tools, training, actionable steps and ongoing support to empower families and improve kids’ reading skills.

Age Groups Served
  • 3-5
  • Elementary School
  • Parent and Caregiver Engagement
Geographical Area Served
  • City of All of the San Francisco Bay Area
Services Offered
Equity & Inclusion: All cultures and people are seen, heard, valued, and included in our early literacy movement.
Raising A Reader has been part of 39 independent program evaluations of its Classic Red Book Bag Program, which have shown demonstrated positive impacts on family home literacy environments and early reading skills. Significant positive changes include: • Increased frequency and duration of shared reading times. • Improved parent-child interactions during reading. • Increased access to books in the home. • Positive impact on overall reading levels and children’s pre-literacy skills, such as letter sound recognition and print awareness. • Improved home literacy environments. Raising A Reader’s Theory of Change centers on a belief that if we improve a child’s home literacy environment and increase the child’s sense of belonging and self-regulation, they will have stronger literacy outcomes – a theory that continues to be substantiated by the extensive research-base of the Learner Variability Project. RAR conducts parent and Affiliate surveys that capture qualitative and quantitative information that track Affiliate retention and satisfaction rates and statistically significant (p<.05) increases in the following five areas: increase in reading frequency, increase in reading duration, increase in level of engagement with literacy materials, increase in access to appropriate books, and improvement of home literacy environments. RAR employs an evaluation tool designed by Child Trends, a leading nonpartisan research center that conducts research on children, children's families, child well-being, and factors affecting children's lives.

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