Helping Children Learn to Enjoy Reading
To foster a love of reading in elementary school-aged students in Fort Collins, Colorado.
A Unique Coalition
Rotary Read - Fort Collins is a unique coalition of three Fort Collins, Colorado Rotary International Clubs: Fort Collins Rotary Club; Fort Collins Rotary Club Foothills; and, Fort Collins Rotary Club - Breakfast, along with the Poudre River Public Library District, and the Poudre School District (Fort Collins, Colorado).
The RRFC is comprised of representatives of all three coalition members. RRFC's activities (see below) focus on being an effective adjunct to educators' and library professionals' efforts to increase reading habits at an early age.
Overall Program Goals
- Enable Fort Collins-area elementary school-aged students to:
- Purchase books of their own choosing through gift certificates to local bookstores. Have books that are their own.
- Personally experience a presentation by and meet an author who writes books that are popular with this age group.
- Increase the time that they read each day.
- Deliver children's dictionaries provided by the Rotary Club of Fort Collins Breakfast to third grade students in the Fort Collins area
- Rotary READ Week (fall)
- Author Visits (spring)
- Third Grade Dictionary Delivery (fall)
- Fundraising (summer)
- 1996: Outstanding Citizen Award from the Colorado Educational Media Association. RRFC is the only organization to ever have received this recognition.
- 2003: Group Volunteer of the Year, Colorado Congressional District 4, from the Colorado Association of Partnere in Education.
- RRFC has received recognition from District 5440 of Rotary International for effectively promoting literacy in Fort Collins.
- Every year, RRFC and the Rotary Clubs receive many messages from students, educators, and parents thanking RRFC for the work they do to improve literacy.
Rotary READ Week
Goal: Have each student read (or have someone read to them) at least 15 minutes per day for one week.
- Program information is sent home with 100% of participating Poudre School District (PSD) elementary school students just before the week with supplemental information about the program available to teachers and media specialists. Information is also made available and distributed to charter school, private school, and home-schooled students and teachers through the Fort Collins Public Library and RRFC committee members.
- At the end of the week, students return completed forms to their school's library or media center that certify that they have completed reading for 15 minutes per day for Rotary READ Week. Each form is signed by a parent or guardian. Each student returning a signed form receives a prize in recognition of their accomplishment.
- All returned forms are entered into a drawing for $10 gift certificates to local bookstores. Typically, 15% to 20% of the returned forms are awarded gift certificates. The gift certificates are awarded in special ceremonies appropriate for the school, including at awards assemblies, video ceremonies, and special classroom ceremonies. Each certificate is personally presented to the student by a Rotarian.
- Rotary READ Week has been very successful in getting students to participate in the program. Since the program began in 1995, well over 30,000 entries have been received with over 10,000 gift certificates being provided to students. Student participation has been increasing. Many students who receive gift certificates have never owned a book before.
- Energize budding writers and readers, especially those in grades 4, 5, and 6, with personal knowledge of popular authors.
- Give students an understanding of how books that they like are written.
- Enable every PSD student to experience at least one author presentation during their time in elementary school.
- One to two noted authors make presentations each to 6 to 8 schools, public libraries, and/or private schools in the Fort Collins area. Authors are selected on the basis of their presentation ability and their writing reputation with RRFC's target student population. Well before each presentation, locations who will be hosting the author promote the author's books, encouraging students to read at least one book before the author arrives. This allows a connection to emerge at the presentation. Many authors also host young writer workshops if requested by the school. These workshops/presentations have proven to be very well received and motivating for students.
- Since 1995:
- Every Poudre School District elementary school has been on an author visit rotation schedule so that every student may experience an author visit at least once during their time in elementary school.
- Presentations have been made to a number of private schools and public libraries.
- The three participating Rotary Clubs in Fort Collins have hosted an author as one of their weekly programs during most years. This has helped to anchor the Rotary Clubs' knowledge and ongoing support of RRFC.
Third Grade Dictionary Delivery
- Dictionary Presentations to Students Through the financial support of the Rotary Club of Fort Collins Breakfast, RRFC has facilitated the delivery of dictionaries to every third grader in the Poudre School District as well as some private schools who participate in RRFC literacy programs.
- The dictionaries are for the students to keep. Presentations are made each year to over 1800 students.
- The American Heritage Children's Dictionary, published by Houghton-Mifflen is given to each student. This dictionary consists of almost 900 pages and incorporates the intensive use of pictures and graphics, to appeal to the learning of third graders. Many teachers have incorporated the use of these dictionaries in their teaching curriculum to anchor the use of dictionaries at an early age.
- The Rotary Club of Fort Collins Breakfast supports the purchase of these dictionaries through the sale of Colorado Palisade Peaches and direct contributions every year. To order peaches or to make a contribution, go to Rotary Club of Fort Collins - Breakfast
- RRFC is 100% self funded. No Rotary Club funding is used to support the program.
- Sources of funding:
- BOGO Pizza Card sales. Northern Colorado Domino's Pizza supports RRFC through discount cards sold for $10. 100% of the sale proceeds goes to RRFC, thanks to the generous support of Domino's Pizza in Fort Collins.
- LunchMoney Restaurant discount books. These discount booklets cost $10 and include monthly BOGO offers to 16 popular Fort Collins-area restaurants.
- Individual purchase of book gift certificates. Rotarians and others who want to encourage good reading habits purchase $10 gift certificates to award to students participating in Rotary Read Week. Corporate Sponsors.
- Corporate sponsors provide other support, including media publicity and cash donations.
- The Rotary Club of Fort Collins - Breakfast supports the purchase of dictionaries for third graders through the sale of Colorado Palisade Peaches and direct contributions every year. To order peaches or to make a direct contribution to purchase a dictionary, go to: Rotary Club of Fort Collins - Breakfast
For more information about Rotary Read - Fort Collins and to financially support RRFC, contact Greg Vosseteig.