The Everybody Wins! program was founded in New York by Arthur Tannenbaum and his wife Phyllis. They had always read aloud to their children and reading aloud together was an important time for them to come together after a long day. It helped the Tannenbaums to instill a lifelong love of reading in their children. Arthur picked up a copy of the Read-Aloud Handbook, written by Jim Trelease after reading a book review in the New York Times. Arthur appreciated how important the read-aloud experience was for children, and realized that there were many children who didn’t have that opportunity to read with an adult in their daily lives.
Trelease wrote that reading aloud to children was the single most important factor in improving children’s literacy skills–but what happens to those children who never had that opportunity?
Arthur saw a chance to make a difference by visiting a neighborhood school once a week during his lunchtime and read to a child. He quickly recruited co-workers to join him in his weekly “Power Lunch.” Soon, the volunteers’ impact became obvious. Children in the program were learning to love reading, they were gaining self-confidence, and they were becoming better readers. This simple program has an enormously powerful impact! Soon Arthur retired from his job and founded Everybody Wins! as a nonprofit in New York.
This program quickly spread, and was brought to Iowa in 2002 after Senator Tom Harkin participated in an Everybody Wins! DC program and knew it could benefit children in Iowa. The original Everybody Wins! reorganized in 2013 as Read Ahead and all of the other affiliates are now stand-alone organizations.
During its first year, Everybody Wins! Iowa served 15 children in three Des Moines schools (Capitol View, Monroe, and Windsor). As of May 31, 2017, Everybody Wins! Iowa is serving over 646* children in 30 schools (located in Des Moines, Ankeny, Indianola, Norwalk, Perry and Pella) and with 7 community organizations (Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa, Children and Family Urban Movement, Community Youth Concepts, Oakridge Neighborhood, Central Presbyterian Church, Freedom for Youth Ministries at Hope Lutheran DM, and MLK Park at Philadelphia 7th Day Adventist Church). It is the mission of Everybody Wins! Iowa to increase children’s success in school and in life through reading and mentoring experiences with caring volunteers.
“With the Everybody Wins! Program, everybody truly does win, especially the children. It is amazing to see the difference that one hour a week can make in a child’s life.”–Senator Tom Harkin
What We Do
Our mission statement: To increase children’s success in school and life through one-to-one reading and mentoring experiences with caring volunteers.
How does everybody win?
Students win by enjoying consistent and positive interactions with caring adults.
Volunteers win by enjoying meaningful and worthwhile experiences and the satisfaction of knowing they are making a positive impact on the future of a young child.
Schools win by seeing improvement in their students’ literacy skills without assuming any administrative burden or cost.
Companies win by offering a simple, efficient way to enhance employee morale and from the positive effects of providing a valuable service to the community.
How do we do this? With our Power Read Program!
Our signature program is Power Read, where volunteer reading mentors are matched one-to-one with a student for about an hour each week and together they read and engage in conversation. Programs may take place during breakfast, lunch, after-school, or evening dinner sessions primarily at elementary schools or through community organizations. Students are suggested for our program by teachers based on three areas: students are struggling with reading, are English language learners, or they might benefit from having a positive ongoing mentoring experience. These consistent, positive interactions aim to provide students with a dependable role model who works to strengthen their confidence with regard to reading.
How does Power Read operate?
Each week mentors and students talk, read, and bond over books with the hope of instilling a positive attitude about reading to our students. The mentors serve as role models, enhancing students’ self-esteem and encouraging their success through these consistent, weekly, positive interactions. Everybody Wins! Iowa complements the education students receive in the classroom by providing a safe, low-pressure setting to practice their reading skills and grow their confidence outside of the classroom. Our program’s simple equation—one mentor, one child, one book at a time—produces powerful results.
If this sounds like something you want to do, click here to apply to volunteer! Or if you would like to help support us in other ways, you can click on Donate or Follow Us for upcoming, one-time events.
Take a look at our most recent annual reports to see what we accomplished thanks to all of your help: