eNewsletter - Issue 24 - July/August 2014

Superhero Summer Academy a hit

About 300 students enjoyed creative arts, water games, outdoor activities and sports while also working on their reading and literacy skills as part of Reading and Beyond's Superhero Summer Academy. Students met at Mesqueda Community Center, Zimmerman Center at the Boys & Girls Club, Parc Grove Commons, Lowell Elementary School and Wishon Elementary School.

"Our main goal is to maintain the student's reading level at the end of the school year so they don't have a drop in literacy for two months" while they're out of school, said Demitri Gonos, RAB's K-12 director.

In support of this year's superhero theme, Hero Comics donated about 250 comic books, which were used to supplement the literacy program.

"They're in addition to the books they're reading every day," Gonos said. "At the end of the program, we're going to hand them out."

For 10-year-old Priscilla Pimentel, the academy has helped her read better and enjoy chapter books. Her teacher "will read with us and then ask us questions," she said. "It helped us better understand the story."


RAB receives two $20,000 grants

In June, Reading and Beyond learned it won two generous $20,000 grants. The first grant from Bank of America will be used to supplement the organization's current career development program and target the Fresno Promise Neighborhood zone, which encompasses the 93701 zip code area. The second grant was from Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Programs. The funds will support Reading and Beyond's Fit Families Program and target communities around the Mosqueda Community Center.

No time off for preschool

The end of June saw 21 students graduate from Reading and Beyond's Preschool and ready for kindergarten.

"We really focused on their academic readiness skills," said Barbara Wons, the preschool center director. "We worked with them with their alphabets, shapes, colors, enhancing their vocabulary, and assisting them with writing their first and last names."

The new preschool session started on July 1, and 32 students are currently enrolled in half- and full-day preschool.
One teaching tool that has students excited about learning is the Apple ipads in the classrooms. In January 2014, preschool started a digital literacy program using ipads to help students learn.

"It's still fairly new," Wons said. "It's one of the things they look forward to. Some of them use (the ipads) better than us."


Youth program launched in SE Fresno

Starting in the Spring of 2014, Reading and Beyond partnered with Focus Forward and Fresno Barrios Unidos to provide youth services in the southeast Fresno area through the Southeast Youth Success program. The program works with youths, ages 16-24, who have had previous contact with Fresno County's juvenile detention center. Youths who are in need of guidance and support to stay on track with their education and career goals. The program provides mentoring, case management, tutoring, workforce development, restorative justice and more.

Op-Ed on the "Peril of Summer Vacation"


Jenny Brietigam, senior program manager, penned an article about the importance of keeping low-income students active, reading and engaged in learning during the lull of summer months. Without accessible, quality, summer educational programs, important academic skills students gained during the school year could be lost. The Op-Ed was published in The Fresno Bee's Valley Voices on May 30.

Giving parents a voice with LCFF

As of July 2013, the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) is the new law that transforms the way California public schools are funded. The Local Control Accountability Plan(LCAP) is an important component of LCFF. Under the LCFF, all districts are required to prepare an LCAP that includes annual goals to be achieved. Part of the LCAP is to set up opportunities for parents, students and community members to provide input and recommendations.

Reading and Beyond has convened 24 local community-based organizations to work on recommendations to present to Fresno Unified School District's LCAP. They have been meeting monthly or every other month. One event was held on  Feb 22, 2014, where feedback and recommendations from about 70 parents were collected and forwarded to the LCAP. Recommendations included meaningful parent engagement, attendance, reading proficiency, eligibility for college and Improve and Expand Restorative Practices Initiative.

Goodbye to Jonathan Cook

After serving Reading and Beyond in different capacities for 9 years and the last 4 years as controller, Jonathan Cook has left to explore other opportunities. The exemplary finance department Reading and Beyond now has is due to him and his contributions. With Jonathan's departure, Richard Coon has joined Reading and Beyond as the new controller.

A note from Luis

Dear Friends,

My hope is to use this space to highlight events, programs and people or just share my thoughts about issues important to our community.

I want to start by thanking you for your support during the past 15 years. We are proud of what we have accomplished thus far, from starting as a small tutoring program at First Covenant Church's facilities to what we are today.

I am pleased to say that we are an organization that works with multi-generations. Although children are the focus of our attention, we cannot ignore the parents and the community if we want the children to succeed.

We need to engage parents from the beginning. Parents are not only the children's first teachers, they also are the ones who stay the longest in the children's lives. Anything we can do to help parents grow and learn will also benefit their children.

Lastly, we look at the issues and policies that affect the families we serve. We advocate with and for them.

I want to finish by asking you to continue to be involved and, if possible, please increase your engagement with Reading and Beyond. We have ambitious goals, and we cannot do it alone.  

Blessings to you and your family,


Eric Johnson wins award

Congratulations to long-time board member Eric Johnson on receiving the Donald G. Larson Award for Community Excellence in June. The award, which was last awarded in 2007, is given to those who make an extraordinary contribution to Reading and Beyond.

"It is the effort and dedication of staff, board members, volunteers and families that have made Reading and Beyond the highly effective organization that it is today," stated Johnson in an email. "To be recognized with this award is humbling, and is truly recognition for everyone who has seen and supported the Reading and Beyond vision for children and family success."

Special Thanks


Reading and Beyond

4670 E Butler Avenue

Fresno, CA 93702

559/600-6191 Ph.

559/600-7639 Fax


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