Improving Children’s Lives One Book at a Time
Back in college, Joe Blackstone and his wife, Jamie Mohn, volunteered to read storybooks to elementary school kids. It was a wake-up call to the stark reality of childhood illiteracy, and they were appalled.
“It’s shocking to see kids at that age falling so far behind the rest of their classmates in the most basic thing, and we as a society don’t do anything about it,” Blackstone recalls thinking.
The statistics for illiteracy are grim. California has one of the lowest literacy rates in the nation. 52% of 4th graders are not reading proficiently in L.A. County and two-thirds of those students will end up in prison or on welfare.
Blackstone and Mohn took literacy matters into their own hands in 2018 with the launch of a free after-school reading program, J3’s Cozy Reading Club.
The Cozy Reading Club, the flagship program of their nonprofit, J3 Foundation, partners with high-needs schools serving predominantly students of color in Los Angeles. The goal: To reverse those crippling statistics by equipping 4th and 5th graders with the reading skills, habits, confidence, and books they need for a lifetime of success.
Since its launch in 2018, in one school with 15 students, J3’s Cozy Reading Club has expanded into 14 L.A. County schools serving over 300 students annually. So far 89% of their students have seen improvement in their standardized test scores. On average, their students have achieved a 36-point gain in their standardized assessments, which equates to 1.5 grade levels of reading skills acquired in just 60 sessions. For Blackstone and Mohn, this is proof their program is working!
While the schools supply the classroom and access to the students, J3 covers everything else – books, site coordinators, follow-ups, and they even pay the teachers at the school to help co-teach the program.
Most importantly, the books are culturally relevant to the students, with kids reading about people who look like them, such as Steph Curry, Cesar Chavez, and Mae Jemison. Their books engage the kids and make them excited to read.
Blackstone says he will never forget when a parent called to say, “My kid hated reading but now he actually enjoys it! The first time I saw him read in the car I almost cried with happiness. The first time he begged for five more minutes to read, I actually did cry. Thank you!”
Director of Operations: Bobbie Boggs-Miller
J3 is excited to announce a unique opportunity to double your donation! Glaser Weil has generously offered to match the first $10,000 in recurring donations!
To equip 4th grade scholars with the skills, habits, confidence, and book access they need for a lifetime of reading success
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The J3 Cozy Reading Club teaches critical reading competencies through an evidence-based and culturally-relevant curriculum. It allows our Compton students, regardless of income or background, to receive a high-quality after-school reading intervention program. As the Director of Educational Services and former K-8 school principal, I have seen how the J3 Cozy Reading Club has impacted our students’ academic and social development and continues to do so each year. Most importantly, our students love attending J3 sessions! Thank you, J3 Foundation!
Struggling to Read, J3’s Cozy Reading Club Makes it Fun
“The Cozy Reading Club, J3 Foundation’s premier reading program, is special in how intentional every piece of the two-hour after-school program is,” Stacee Longo, Sr. Program Director of J3 Foundation says. “We take a holistic approach with our students by focusing on reading skills, mindfulness, social-emotional learning, restorative practices, and so much more.”
J3 Foundation is raising $864,000 to expand its Cozy Reading Club to 24 additional schools, double its book collection from 5,000 books to 10,000, and to reach 650 more students of color who are struggling to read.
A $1,500 donation will add 100 books to the J3 collection for our students to read. A $5,000 donation will support the costs of hiring highly qualified educators from our partner schools. A $12,000 donation can fund an entire trimester for a school in need. And a $36,000 donation will fund an entire year of the Cozy Reading Club for 30 students at one school.
“The magic of our program is that we provide a safe space where all students get to rediscover the joy and magic of a good book,” says Longo.
Morgan Stanley Gift Fund
McKuin Frankel Whitehead LLP
Richardson Charitable Foundation
Once Upon a Time Bookstore
Barry Family Foundation
CTBC Bank Corp.
Glaser Weil LLP
Humberto & Maria Gray
Joel & Sherry McKuin
Lido Advisors LLC
Macquarie Capital USA
The Brentwood Inn