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Holiday Fund: Literacy Partners strives to support local literacy initiatives in Menlo Park and beyo


Partner organizations supported by Literacy Partners serve literacy needs of community members of all ages, from preschoolers to seniors, along with volunteer opportunities. Courtesy All Five and Ravenswood Classroom Partners


Literacy Partners – Menlo Park (LPMP) completed the first full year of its expanded mission in July 2022, providing some $85,000 to local partner organizations to address a range of issues helping toddlers to seniors.


We see our job as creating opportunities to help our neighbors who might say, 'I want to help' but who may be looking for guidance about where their resources might best help literacy programs serving preschoolers to seniors," said John Schniedwind, a retired American Century vice president and now LPMP's treasurer.


Angie Holman, executive director of Ravenswood Classroom Partners, said in late November an LPMP grant enabled her group to design "a new high-dosage literacy model to provide deeper one-on-one support" – tutoring strategies that were designed to support local school efforts to prevent kids from falling behind during Covid classroom closures.


LPMP is one of this year's beneficiaries of The Almanac's Holiday Fund. Donations are divided equally among this year's 10 nonprofit organizations and 100% of the funds raised go directly to the recipients. Donations to the Holiday Fund can be made here.


Heriberto Madrigal, a Belle Haven native and professional librarian in San Mateo County, said he was pleased to see before joining the LPMP board of directors in November how the group's programs and relationships cross-fertilize each other. "These inspire working relationships that are likely to promote insights that can supercharge programs LPMP supports."


For example, East Palo Alto Kids' (EPAK) Micro Grants program, another LPMP recipient, provides small grants to individual teachers for incidentals, such as classroom supplies that may be taken for granted in wealthy schools. EPAK noted that one Belle Haven School teacher, Brianna Richards, used a micro grant to buy materials to create a classroom soccer scenario developed to help her 4th graders learn math. The micro grant program also supports another LPMP recipient, All Five, an early education program in Belle Haven. Karen Pace of All Five noted that the research-inspired preschool is high quality enough to attract and retain full-pay families. The other 75% of enrolled families have incomes at or near the poverty line, and their tuition is paid by state funding or a family's sliding scale rate. All students receive the same high-quality programming regardless of income, Pace said.

LPMP, founded in 2020, started as Literacy Partners – Project Read in 1984 to support the Menlo Park Public Library, a relationship which continues. In September, LPMP gave $31,000 to buy loanable laptops and library amenities, notably furniture for public areas needed by the public returning to the library after the pandemic.


Initially, the furniture was used by seniors bused to the library when their own day use meeting place in Belle Haven was closed for construction. Madrigal noted that the mix of books and socialization could be empowering for low-literacy patrons who might not see the library as a destination but might be interested in browsing books once there – "and that's another important connection," she said.


Other LPMP recipients this year include StreetCode Academy to support a portion of the nonprofit's program that provides laptops, internet and tech education to students in East Menlo Park and East Palo Alto through its LevelUp initiative. LPMP also supports JobTrain, a Menlo Park-based regional career training program, that teaches basic digital skills to adult community members. LPMP is interested in developing/supporting programs that will help, small business people, such as landscapers and housecleaners, efficiently manage basic paperwork, including, bids and billing.


Along with Schniedwind and Madrigal, current LPMP Board Members include President Mike Goodkind and longtime Bay Area and international educator Margaret Simmons. Jason Schendel of Sheppard Mullin is the organization's pro bono attorney, and Madhavi Desai recently joined as volunteer webmaster.


LPMP continues to recruit qualified and enthusiastic board members who can participate in fundraising and community grant vetting that often includes hands-on involvement. Donations and inquiries are always welcome through LPMP's website, https://www.literacypartnersmenlopark.org, or by mail at Literacy Partners – Menlo Park, 1259 El Camino Real, #176, Menlo Park, CA 94025. LPMP's President, Mike Goodkind, may be reached at m.goodkind@literacypartnersmenlopark.org.

Mike Goodkind is the president of Literacy Partners, a nonprofit in Menlo Park


Link to the article: https://www.almanacnews.com/news/2022/12/20/holiday-fund-literacy-partners-strives-to-support-local-literacy-initiatives-in-menlo-park-and-beyond


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