HISTORY

The Literacy Project was founded in 2009 in recognizing both the short-and long-term social concerns directly associated with illiteracy. Considering statistics of higher rates of school dropout, unemployment, and poverty, as well as the long-term implications of the third-grade reading achievement gap, TLP was established to make a significant and lasting impact. Utilizing their comprehensive literacy intervention program, The Literacy Project strives to improve reading skill levels among struggling readers in the second grade at Title 1 schools throughout Southern California.

2009 – Sue Grant founded The Literacy Project (TLP) to target underachieving and struggling students in after-school environments and to provide a 30-hour reading program and product “free of cost” to students identified as performing far below basic in English proficiency. This first year included all research, planning, start-up of operations, and development of all marketing collateral. The first “friend-raiser” was held in May 2009 at Big Canyon Country Club for 90 guests with CA Secretary of Education Dave Long as Keynote Speaker. The first Board of Directors were established with Douglas Freeman (Chair), Sue Grant, Fernando Niebla, Dave Long, Marian Bergeson, William Habermehl and Dr. Lee Hausner. All costs of operations were underwritten by Sue Grant’s firm, OC Public Relations (OCPR).

2010 – TLP began service in the ACCESS Program of the Orange County Department of Education under the guidance of OC Superintendent of Schools William Habermehl and Sherry Opasic, OCDE Program Director. After-school programs included Project Hope in Orange, Martin Luther King Elementary School in Santa Ana and the Boys & Girls Club in Garden Grove. Academic results proved significant in increasing reading skill levels for students in first through fourth grades. TLP hosted its first fundraiser and raised $25,000.

2011– TLP focused service in Anaheim, California and serviced 39 after-school programs within the Anaheim Achieves organization. Funds were raised to service half the schools each year. The BOD was increased to nine members. Long Beach School District was added as a service area. The third annual benefit luncheon raised $50,000.

2012 – TLP continued servicing areas in Orange County and Long Beach. An attitudinal survey with pre- and post testing was added to the reading program to measure self-confidence and psychological influences during the 30-hour program. A full year’s data was analyzed by the OCDE’s Data and Evaluation Center under the guidance of Stephanie Schneider, PH.D. and an Executive Data Summary proved the reading program in after-school environments resulted in “significant” improvements with struggling readers who were performing far below English proficiency by an average of 57%, equivalent to half a school year. Attitudinal data proved that more than 85% of the participants improved their attitude towards reading out loud, engaging in reading activities and improved self-confidence. William Habermehl retired and influenced OCDE to allow TLP to service during daytime instruction in schools throughout Orange County. Annual fundraiser raised $60,000.

2013 – TLP served over 2,000 at-risk kids in the Orange County and Long Beach school districts. After a full year of in-classroom service, an addendum was prepared by OCDE’s Evaluation Center and showed academic reading skill levels improved during daytime instruction by as much as 129%, more than half (53%) of the participants exceeded their control group and the average learning rate in 30-hours was equivalent to seven months of classroom instruction or ¾ of a school year. Annual benefit raised $75,000.

2014 – Service began in 4 schools in the Coachella Valley School District and Superintendent Dr. Darryl Adams joined the BOD. We began to prospect donors and corporations in the area. The annual benefit was changed to the evening gala event and staged at Island Hotel. Event raised $80,000.

2015 – TLP continued to be recognized, in California by The Regents of the University of California, as a leading nonprofit in the fight against illiteracy. Former CA Secretaries of Education Marian Bergeson and Dave Long, reading specialists and education experts continued their endorsement of TLP’s program. Sue Grant was selected as one of 33 national board members for the Coalition of Reading Excellence in Washington D.C., which will help bring nationwide awareness of TLP’s effective program. Disneyland Resort chose TLP as a $60K recipient of their Million Dollar Dazzle campaign. Cindy Culpepper, CEO of Wienerschnitzel (Galardi Group Inc.) joined the BOD and contributed $20,000 as presenting sponsor of the annual gala. Event raised $125,000.

2016 –TLP launched its program in the Los Angeles and Santa Ana school districts in Fall of 2016, thanks to the matching funds from Wienerschnitzel (Galardi Group, Inc) and the franchisee owners of 140 stores, guaranteeing a $50,000 donation. GGI adopted TLP as their nonprofit partner of choice and will spearhead an awareness campaign throughout Southern California. A Strategic Plan for 2015-20 was adopted and approved by the BOD along with updated bylaws for improved board governances. Sue Grant was voted in as new chairman of the BOD, bringing the total to 11. The Wheeler Family and Learning Legacies LLC donated 6,216 game products to TLP. The annual gala netted $110K in proceeds.

2017—To date, TLP has serviced over 6,000 and has raised over $2.9 million dollars in funding. Service areas include five school districts: Santa Ana, Coachella Valley, Long Beach, Los Angeles and Orange County. The staff consists of Executive Volunteer Sue Grant, Director of Regional Programming and Operations Kimberly Vig, and Manager of Marketing and Communications Jenny McWhirter. TLP continues its cost effective internship program with collaborations with University of California, Irvine, California State University, Fullerton and Chapman University. The Board of Directors includes 10 members and the Advisory Board includes six members. The special events each year are the annual gala “What Dreams Are Made Of,” “Readers in The Outfield” (Angels Baseball) and a series of “Cheers for Literacy” social events.