Reading and Beyond was founded in 1998 with just $20,000 in seed money from a group of community leaders at First Covenant Church. At its inception 30 volunteers served 30 families with literacy tutoring and parenting programs. It was only a few years before Reading and Beyond’s methods were recognized both locally and nationally and the organization was awarded funding to expand our programs. Executive Director Luis Santana and Board Chair Bob Larson recieved recognition from Fresno Unified as a "model for other organizations". Shortly after, Reading and Beyond was one of only 4 organizations to recieve national funding from the U.S. Department of Education to develop our Early Childhood Education program into a replicable model. In 2004, our Afterschool/Literacy intervention program was expanded to include over 500 children at five school-based sites.
To keep pace with this growth, our Board of Directors organized a strategic planning process in 2005 that launched Reading and Beyond into the next decade of service. In the next ten years, our Executive Director became the first person from the Central Valley to be selected for the James Irvine Leadership Award "for advancing innovative and effective solutions to critical state issues"; we opened dozens of sites in the Central Valley; we launched a workforce development program called the "Fresno Bridge Academy", which subsequently became the California Bridge Academies as the program expanded to multiple counties; and we moved our offices to the Mosqueda community center in south-east Fresno.
In the past 3 years, Reading and Beyond has experienced explosive growth. We now have sites in 7 California counties and are actively serving thousands of families and individuals. Nearing our 20 year anniversary as an organization, we are working dillegently to keep our work sustainable, effective, and relevant to the needs of the communities we serve so we can continue to serve families for the next 20 years.
Please enjoy this video that highlights some major milestones in our history as an organization: