J3’s Hiring Strategy Creates a “Halo” Effect

By Giving List Staff   |   May 31, 2023

J3 Foundation understands the special and powerful relationship between teacher and student.      

That’s why this literacy non-profit empowers local teachers in every way possible. Rather than sending in outside instructors or volunteers like many other non-profits, J3 only hires teachers and aides who are already working  at the schools where they offer Cozy Reading Club, their free afterschool reading program.

It’s the harder route, but J3 knows it’s the smart thing to do and the right thing to do. By hiring from within, the foundation can make a more immediate and lasting impact for the teachers, students, and community.

One afternoon at Washington Elementary in Compton, Ms. Weatherspoon noticed that the twins Sam and Serena* seemed a little uneasy while reading J3’s book of the day, Oji Chan’s Gift. The story is about a girl who grows up tending a garden with her grandfather, who eventually grows too old to care for his home or garden.

After the book came the journal prompt: “How do you respond to big changes in life?” Stifling back tears, the twins vaguely share their response with the class – that they experienced a big change in their lives recently, on their birthday.

Ms. Weatherspoon and Ms. Manivanh Do bring the siblings into the hallway for a quiet moment to connect.

Together, the teachers and J3 team work hard to create a safe space for these kids.

A student at Watts Learning Center  (Compton, CA) answering a journal prompt. Created by child psychologists and educators, J3’s reading curriculum also includes mindfulness and confidence-building activities. Kids graduate from the program with higher reading scores and self-esteem.

By hiring from within, “We build trust with our students much faster because the staff  in our program know them, see them daily, and live and work in their neighborhoods. There is a cultural understanding that does not need to be overcome,” says Beth Anderson (J3 Corporate & Community Outreach Coordinator).

The twins are reluctant to share at first but find the courage to tell their teachers that their grandfather passed away on their birthday. Gently, Ms. Weatherspoon tells them it’s okay to feel this way and asks them what they need to feel better.

90% of J3 students come from low-income households, often in communities with higher levels of instability and trauma. “For these kids, there often isn’t space to have feelings. But at J3, we can create the space for it,” says Ms. Weatherspoon. “Culturally, folks don’t tend to open up about certain things here. For them to trust us enough to give us that detail was really major.”

By hiring teachers from within the communities they serve, J3 Foundation’s literacy program empowers more than just their individual students.

With their natural empathy and J3’s training in SEL (Social Emotional Learning) and Restorative Practices, Ms. Weatherspoon and Ms. Manivanh Do help Sam and Serena step back into the classroom feeling a little lighter and more present to learn. They kept a watchful eye on the twins and were able to give them what they needed to get through the rest of the session. The school becomes a safe space for these kids to return to because they have the support of their teachers and the space to be vulnerable. 

The good that happens in Cozy Reading Club doesn’t just stay in Cozy Reading Club. It spreads, just as J3 intended.

Often, J3 instructors will share the Cozy Reading Club’s curriculum and library of books with other non-J3 teachers at their school as educational tools and resources. In her daytime classroom, Ms. van der Weyde at Kelly Elementary School (Compton, CA) uses J3 reading lessons in her general ed classroom and asks her J3 students to lead them. Since the J3 teachers are often also their general ed teachers, kids who had previously been struggling academically are used as positive examples in the classroom. This builds their confidence, highlights their new skills, and makes it much less likely that they’ll end up as a dropout statistic.

“When we hire a teacher or aide from a school we’re serving, we have an opportunity to help so many more than just the 25 students in that after-school program,” says Stacee Longo (J3’s Senior Program Director). “We’re building up a whole community, one session at a time.”

It’s vital that the teachers and aides benefit, too. “When J3 hires these teachers, we pay them well,” says Stacee. J3 matches instructors’ district salary rates, which is more than the second jobs that many of them have had to work to sustain a living. “We respect their education. They can be paid what they’re worth to do what they’re best at.”

Donate today to help J3 Foundation empower teachers to elevate their students and create a better future for us all.

Ms. Crystal Moore, Ms. Alondra Fabian, Mrs. Susan Medina, and Mrs. Carol King at Tibby Elementary School (Compton, CA). Like this team, many teachers and aides return to the program year after year for the positivity, change, and community they can help build with J3.

*The names of students have been changed to protect their identities and privacy.


J3 Foundation

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(310) 924-2422
Director of Operations: Bobbie Boggs-Miller

Matching Funds — $1,500 Funds a Young Reader

One of the reasons J3 Foundation has been so effective is that it’s stayed laser focused on what it does best: teaching kids to read. The Cozy Reading Club anticipates serving 700+ students this year and J3 hopes to double that number by attracting more private donations. Creating a new reader who will grow up to be a positive contributor to society costs the organization just $1,500 annually.
“I think it’s the best $1,500 we as a society could ever invest,” says Joe Blackstone, J3 Foundation co-founder. “And that number will go down as we get more students.”
Glaser Weil will match every dollar raised, up to $10,000.


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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I appreciate J3 for the organization’s commitment to doing everything possible when it comes to reading proficiency. It’s rewarding to see your dollars make an impact immediately. J3 Foundation is so well run that I don’t have to think twice about the actual support that’s being implemented. The rate they’re scaling is just amazing. J3 sees every child’s potential and never gives up on its mission.
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J3 Advisory Board Member Vice President of Strategy,
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