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Literacy Nonprofit The Reading Connection to Close Next Week

A local nonprofit that helps encourage at-risk children and their families to develop a love of reading will close next week after 28 years.

The Reading Connection, which has offices at 1501 Lee Highway near Rosslyn, will close its doors on Friday, August 11. It will hold its last “Read-Aloud,” where volunteers read to children at shelters and community centers, on Wednesday, August 9.

The nonprofit is dedicated to providing low-income children and their families with opportunities to read and be read to, as well as giving them free books when they might otherwise not have any.

Its volunteers held Read-Alouds at over a dozen locations — mostly apartment complexes — across the D.C. metropolitan area, including at Columbia Grove, New Hope Housing, The Shelton, The Springs, Sullivan House, Virginia Gardens and Woodbury Park in Arlington. Other locations are in Alexandria, Annandale, Bethesda and D.C.

The nonprofit’s director of program operations Stephanie Berman Hopkins announced the closure earlier today in an email to volunteers, which was obtained by ARLnow.com.

“I am so proud of the work we have done together and all of the children we have inspired to love reading,” Berman Hopkins wrote. “The impact our programs have had will continue to live on. Thank you for your dedication to this organization, the Read-Aloud program and the kids and families we serve. It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with you all. Our programs would not have been as strong as they have been without all of your efforts.”

In the email, Berman Hopkins said The Reading Connection’s board of directors reviewed the organization and determined it is not financially viable. TRC’s annual budget was $600,000, according to its website.

Berman Hopkins and The Reading Connection’s executive director, Catherine Keightley, declined to comment on the review, citing privacy considerations for those involved, but Keightley said finding continued funding would have been too difficult.

“What lots of reports are telling us is that funding is going to become more challenging, I think locally and regionally,” she said in a brief interview. “There may be a shift in funding priorities given some of the actions with the new [presidential] administration.”

Prior to its closing The Reading Connection will hold a book and supply sale from Monday, August 7 until Wednesday, August 9.

The email to The Reading Connection volunteers is below, after the jump.

Dear TRC volunteers,

It is with great sadness that I say that after 28 years of service to the greater DC community, The Reading Connection will be closing its doors this month. This decision was not made lightly, but after an extensive and thoughtful review by our Board of Directors based on where the organization is today and what we know of the upcoming funding landscape.

I am so proud of the work we have done together and all of the children we have inspired to love reading. The impact our programs have had will continue to live on. Thank you for your dedication to this organization, the Read-Aloud program and the kids and families we serve.  It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with you all. Our programs would not have been as strong as they have been without all of your efforts.

Now for a few logistics. The last Read-Aloud will be held on Wednesday, August 9 and our office will close permanently at noon on August 11. We’ll be announcing the news publicly later today. […]

If you’d like to volunteer for another reading-focused organization, here are a few recommendations:

We will be having a sale to find good homes for all of our books and supplies on August 7 to 9 from 10am to 2pm (until 1pm on August 9).  Registered 501c3 organizations, including our partners, can pick up items as donations with their tax ID letter and EIN and the public is welcome to buy books and supplies at yard sale prices.  If you want more specifics about the sale, just let me know and I’m happy to share. Feel free to come by if you’re available.  We’d love to have the opportunity to say “see you later”.

You and all of our wonderful volunteers have been the heart and soul of The Reading Connection and we are so grateful for all that you’ve done to help us fulfill our mission.  Thank you!

Photo (middle) via The Reading Connection

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