With its mission to promote language skills and literacy for children, beginning at birth, and to support parents as their babies’ first teachers, Read to Grow touches the lives of tens of thousands of families each year.
Read to Grow’s earliest activities date back to 1998, when a book collection project was launched by RJ Julia Booksellers of Branford, in collaboration with Connecticut shoreline schools and communities. The project collected more than 12,000 books for families receiving services at a New Haven health center. Roxanne Coady, the bookstore’s owner, convened an energized group of individuals and they established an ambitious goal: to provide every baby born in Connecticut with a new book.
Within the next two years, the fledgling organization distributed books to mothers giving birth at Yale New Haven Hospital and the name Read to Grow was adopted along with an expanded mission. In 2000, Read to Grow was incorporated as a nonprofit organization.
Now in its 20th year, Read to Grow has achieved dramatic success and works with more than 72 other nonprofits through formal collaborations. The organization has received numerous accolades, awards and testimonials, and has garnered broad recognition for its work.
Read to Grow envisions a day when every family understands the critical importance of early childhood literacy and takes an active role in their child’s reading development, and when all children in Connecticut have books of their own.
Annually, Read to Grow’s Books for Babies program distributes books to new mothers at 14 partner hospitals in Connecticut, reaching 64% of all newborns in the state. Also, through the distribution of its Literacy Packets and coordinating visits to new mothers by nurses or volunteers, Read to Grow teaches women about early brain development and the value of sharing books with their babies from birth.
Books for Kids, another Read to Grow program, is a literacy continuum, providing books across the state on request from families, childcare providers, doctors, teachers, community and service groups and other nonprofits. Formal collaborations have been forged with more than 40 other nonprofits to establish Book Places and Partnerships that offer children’s books and share Read to Grow’s message with more low-income and at-risk families.
In 2018, Read to Grow partnered with Save the Children to introduce in New Haven what had been a rural model of children’s language development and pre-literacy. Called Early Steps to School Success, the program combines staff-led home visits with school-based group gatherings that integrate schools, families and communities in a multi-faceted effort to promote and increase early childhood literacy.
Read to Grow is led by an engaged 10-member board of directors and has a dedicated staff of 12 and more than 80 volunteers. The organization’s annual budget is $1.0 million.
Active in locations across Connecticut, staff and volunteers work with an increasing number of families. Longstanding partnerships as well as new affiliations with schools are thriving and continue to grow. Through their work, Read to Grow not only impacts the lives of young children and adults, but also supports their schools and communities.
With its national partner, Save the Children, Read to Grow’s Early Steps to School Success (ESSS) program encourages the development of skills and the growth of self-confidence in young learners. The organization’s work is highly respected and replicable in other areas in Connecticut and beyond. Read to Grow has the opportunity to expand its impact in the years ahead.
This is a unique opportunity in an organization with the potential for increased growth and visibility. Read to Grow is prepared for an inspired leader to take full advantage of the organization’s assets and successes to date and further strengthen its programs, expand its geographic reach, and increase its public visibility. The next Executive Director of Read to Grow will join a professional organization, an engaged board, and loyal, skilled staff and volunteers.
Read to Grow’s growth and development position it to build upon its successes. Led by Board President Jeff Hartmann, Read to Grow’s board of directors has recently completed an in-depth strategic planning process that projects measured growth and strategic revenue development in the years ahead.
Increasing individual donor support, maintaining a diverse funding stream and creating new partnerships and affiliations are some of the board’s expectations for the years ahead.
Over the next three years, Read to Grow expects to:
The Ideal Candidate
This position requires a skilled nonprofit leader who will be an enthusiastic and energetic advocate for Connecticut’s children and their families. The successful candidate will be a flexible, strategic, and innovative thinker who shares Read to Grow’s vision of a world in which all children have access to books at an early age; all families recognize the value of reading to their children and bring books into their homes. Read to Grow is seeking a hands-on operational leader who is adept at managing a range of programs, a talented staff and a group of committed volunteers. The ideal candidate will also be highly skilled in partnership building, working closely with a board of directors, and fundraising, and will serve as the face of the organization to diverse public audiences.
Read to Grow’s ideal candidate will share the board’s passion for its mission and demonstrate these skills and attributes:
Strategic Thinking and Program Management
The ideal candidate will be a strategic thinker with significant experience in planning and program management. The successful candidate will be prepared to work with the board of directors, and to play a central role in the implementation of the organization’s strategic plan.
Excellent Communication Skills
Read to Grow expects its new leader to demonstrate highly developed written and oral communications skills. The organization’s next leader will ideally be an individual who is an articulate and thoughtful speaker, able to represent the organization effectively to public audiences, donors, foundations, and potential partners.
Ability to Generate Revenue
The ideal candidate, in concert with board and staff members, will be skilled at cultivating and retaining donors, prepared to seek new and diverse sources of funding, and experienced in revenue growth and institutional donor development. He,she or they will be experienced in identifying and cultivating new partnerships and maintaining positive relationships with current funders.
Collaborative and Community Relations Experience
The next executive director will bring significant skills in outreach, community relations and partnership and collaboration development. The ideal candidate will compellingly represent the organization’s mission and vision to its constituencies.
The next executive director will bring experience and skills in the daily management of staff.
Resource Management and Administration
Read to Grow’s ideal candidate will be familiar with financial and operational management in a public or nonprofit agency or program. He, she or they will understand workplace compliance and employment laws and possess the ability to assure adequate control and accounting of all funds, including maintaining sound financial practices.
Read to Grow seeks a new leader with experience working effectively in partnership with a board of directors or advisory group to carry out the mission of the organization.
Education and Leadership Experience
A Bachelor’s degree is required, and a Master’s degree in a relevant area is preferred. Five or more years of increasing leadership responsibility is required.
Submission of Candidacy
This executive search is being conducted by TSNE MissionWorks with Transition Consultant Cathy Cohen. All submissions will be acknowledged and are confidential.
Candidates should include a resume and a cover letter that describes how their qualifications and experience match the needs of Read to Grow along with salary requirements, how they learned of the position and any other relevant information (such as published articles). Applications will be accepted until the position has been filled.
This is a full-time position offering a competitive salary and benefits commensurate with skill and experience.
Read to Grow is an equal-opportunity employer and actively seeks a diverse pool of candidates. This inclusive organization urges people from all racial and ethnic backgrounds, abilities, gender identities, religions, and ages to apply.