Our Mission

The mission of Philadelphia READS is to “raise a city of readers” through quality out of school time programs focused to get children and youth to read on or above grade level by grade 4. We are a proud partner with the “READ! By 4th” Campaign.

Our History

1997 – Presidential Summit held in Philadelphia. President Clinton holds a “Call to Action” to Americans to get involved with tutoring our children and youth, particularly in literacy development. Mayor Rendell and nonprofit guru Marcienne Mattleman collaborate to create Philadelphia READS as an independent initiative of the mayor’s office. It was funded solely by private donations, including a 10-year contract of $200,000 from the Annenberg Foundation.

1998 – The first program, Power Partners, is launched, with 3 law firms in the city, including the mayor’s firm, Ballard Spahr, as the first participants. Today, there are 20+ Power Partners across the city and surrounding area.

2000 – Mayor Street continues support of Philadelphia READS as an initiative of the mayor’s office and Tom Jacoby carries on the work of the founding Executive Director, Marcienne Mattleman.

2002 – Philadelphia READS receives the “President’s Award” from the Schoolmen’s Club of Philadelphia.

2003 – Philadelphia READS grows and adds a new program, Summer READS, and The Philadelphia READS Reading Olympics is piloted with 6 schools in West Philadelphia. Today, there are nearly 150 teams, competing annually in the Reading Olympics.

2004 – Philadelphia READS receives the “Friend Award” from First Philadelphia Charter School.

2005 – Philadelphia READS creates and launches the Book Bank to serve local teachers with the provision of classroom library books and supplies. The Book Bank fills a gap that educators face as they are required to have a classroom library, but are not provided a budget to secure one, which means they fund their classroom materials themselves. As a retired School District educator, Tom Jacoby understood this and started the Book Bank. Dr. Adrienne Jacoby, a retired school principal, takes over the organization for her late husband, Tom Jacoby.

2006 – Philadelphia READS receives the “Great Friend to Kids and Education in Philadelphia Award” from the Please Touch Museum for the Summer READS program.

2007 – Philadelphia READS receives the “Coming Up Taller Award for Youth, Arts, and The Humanities” from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities at the White House for Summer READS.

2010 – Philadelphia READS becomes and independent nonprofit, with 501 c(3) status, as it had previously been governed by the Urban Affairs Coalition.

2014 – Philadelphia READS receives the “Community Partnership Award” from Mutual of America.

2015 – Philadelphia READS changes leadership as Dr. Adrienne Jacoby retires (for the second time) and joins the Board of Directors as an Emeritus Member.

Our Vision

In 1997, Philadelphia hosted the Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future. The summit aimed to “turn the tide for America’s youth,” with a particular focus on those who were not provided a fair start due to the ills associated with poverty and struggling school districts. This was the catalyst for the expansion of the “America Reads Challenge” to spread across our nation with states as far as California to Massachusetts in participation. The goal of the America Reads Challenge was to enlist an army of reading tutors to provide the one-on-one attention necessary for children to “catch up and get ahead,” with an objective of reading on grade-level by the end of third grade.

At the conclusion of his speech, former President Clinton asked those in attendance, “After today is over, do you promise to keep working tomorrow?” PHILADELPHIA READS answered with an affirmative yes, recruiting and training volunteers to work independently with children as reading tutors in the “Power Partners” program. As time progressed, PHILADELPHIA READS grew and developed additional ways to provide quality OST programming to children and youth, which included the establishment of the Summer READS program in 2004 with the help of generous funding from the Annenberg Foundation. Today, PHILADELPHIA READS is still saying yes! Yes, we have kept our promise to keep working and we will continue to do so until the tide has completely turned!