With the skyline of Dallas in the background, Readers 2 Leaders gathered at Mary McDermott Cook‘s DumpTop to discuss the challenges facing school children when it comes to literacy on Wednesday, October 17. Following a presentation by United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’s Chief Strategy, Impact and Operations Officer Susan Hoff, Mary made a statement that provides food for thought and to continue the discussion. Here’s a report from the field:
Experts estimate that 93,000 Dallas County children in kindergarten through third grade are behind in reading – enough to sell out AT&T Cowboys Stadium. That’s why Readers 2 Leaders got together with 50 of their closest donors, partners, and volunteers on Wednesday, October 17, to talk about the future of literacy in Dallas and what it will take to make reading a reality for all kids. A cold, rainy Wednesday night didn’t stop these book lovers from arriving at DumpTop, the West Dallas home of Mary McDermott Cook.
Guests like Readers 2 Leaders Executive Director Norma Nelson, Patrick Sargent, Alyssa Peraza, LaurieGrace Bouldin, Tanya and Ken McDonald and Dan Patterson enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres, including what one guest called the “best grilled cheese of all time,” against the backdrop of Mary’s gorgeous spiral staircase and beautiful collection of fine art. Those present included principals from schools where Readers 2 Leaders tutors kids, partners from Texas Capital Bank and Celanese Corp, and donors and friends of the organization, which provides high-dosage literacy tutoring for about 500 children in and near West Dallas.
United Way of Metropolitan Dallas’s Chief Strategy, Impact and Operations Officer Susan Hoff was the event’s featured speaker. She reminded the group about Scout, the “To Kill A Mockingbird” protagonist, who said “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” Readers 2 Leaders hopes to provide a breath of fresh air to Dallas’s youngest readers through two new scaling initiatives: a collaboration through Better Together Fund with Reading Partners, Beacon Hill Preparatory Institute, and Catch Up & Read; and a United Way GroundFloor project designed to give the organization a way to share its expertise in out-of-school-time literacy tutoring with more Dallas nonprofits, churches, and other entities.
Mary herself closed out the evening. “Without educated people,” she noted, “we can’t have a democracy.” Her remarks helped stir the room to conversation about how to make sure more children get the reading help they need.
* Photo credit: Holly Kuper Photography