We have been around for a while, read more to see where we have been and where we are going!
Philadelphia READS was founded in 1997 while our programs has evolved over the years, the one thing that has remained constant is that children and families have books to read so they become lovers of reading.
How we serve:
We provide new and gently used books to children and families, teachers, schools, and other nonprofit partners.
We offer literacy and support programs for children and families across the city.
We generate excitement and a love for reading by engaging children and partnering with families, volunteers, schools, faith-based organizations, corporations, nonprofits, government, and the entire community!
Four Core Literacy Programs:
Marciene Mattleman - Found, Philadelphia READS
Dr. Marciene Mattleman was raised in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia. Her businessman father and homemaker mother instilled in her the belief that “what was important in life … [was] that sense of giving back.” She began her career as a sixth grade teacher in Philadelphia and earned her Ph.D. in Education from Temple University, where she also taught for 18 years as a professor of reading and language.
In 1984, Mayor Wilson Goode appointed Marciene as the executive director of the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy. At the time, over half a million people in Philadelphia were estimated to be functionally illiterate (reading at a fourth grade level or less). Marciene said that the situation reflected a “national emergency” of adult illiteracy.
Maximizing her full access to a supportive Mayor Goode, Marciene raised over one million dollars, mainly from foundations, for the commission’s work during its first year. She organized tutoring programs that trained volunteers to teach the City’s illiterate population and her office in the City Hall Annex was always open to anyone who hoped to learn how to read. She persuaded churches, corporations, and various other organizations to establish teaching sites in their buildings to combat illiteracy. Her innovative computer based tutorials assisted instructors, and an electronic networking program enabled literacy groups to exchange information. By the fall of 1985, the City had 200 sites throughout the City where volunteers tutored adults and the program’s success established Philadelphia as a leader in the fight against illiteracy.
In 1989, Marciene founded the Philadelphia Futures Program, in affiliation with the Philadelphia Urban Coalition. Her Philadelphia Futures Program matched up students with donors and mentors to help the students (in Marciene’s words) “prepare for college and the world of work.” The mentors offer guidance and a positive role model, while donors provide up to $2,000 of financial support for each year of college. Marciene’s efforts and the Philadelphia Futures program were nationally recognized by President Clinton at the White House in 1994.
Marciene resigned from the Philadelphia Futures Program in 1997, explaining at the time, “I love start-up, I love new challenges.” So, naturally she quickly accepted a new challenge in response to President Clinton’s America Reads Challenge in 1998. Mayor Ed Rendell named Marciene to be the executive director of the Philadelphia READS program. She drummed up the necessary financial support to implement the “100 Book Challenge,” which challenged students (kindergarten through third grade) to each read 100 books over the course of the school year. She then launched a citywide “Books Not Guns” campaign to provide books to students who lacked books at home. In 2002, Marciene founded After School Activities Partnerships (ASAP), which established activities for students, ranging from debate teams and chess clubs to dance clubs and yoga. After winning the Philadelphia Award in 2007, Marciene commented, “When you have a kid go to college who never thought they could, or learn to read, or win a chess tournament…it’s wonderful to see.
After founding five nonprofit groups devoted to education and literacy, Marciene retired at the age of 85 from the After School Activities Partnership – leaving behind a legacy of peerless leadership, fundraising, advocacy and innovation for programs designed to promote literacy and after-school activities.
Marciene made the final transition on Friday, March 29, after a four-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. She is survived by her loving husband, Herman; three children, Ellen, Barbara and Jon; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren. Her boundless energy, eternal optimism, inspiring leadership and unparalleled accomplishments will be missed by, among others, countless other family members and friends, public officials, business and nonprofit executives, religious leaders, educators and former staff members, volunteers and students.
The Board, staff and volunteers of Philadelphia READS will do its part to continue to honor Marciene’s memory and preserve her legacy by upholding her lofty standards and goals while fulfilling our mission to create a City of Readers!