Together we make a profound difference

Masons Give $1.2 Million to Raising A Reader

Thanks to the generous support of masons throughout California, we have reached our goal of raising $1.2 million in three years to support the Raising A Reader program. The partnership between the two organizations, and the gift that came along with it, has allowed for the expansion of the Raising A Reader program into public elementary school classrooms for the first time in its history.

With this $1.2 million gift we have helped to significantly improve child literacy, strengthen families, and inspire a new generation of California’s children to read, learn and succeed.

A Three-Year Commitment

Back in the fall of 2010, the Masons of California recognized the important role of family engagement in the success of public school students, so they forged a groundbreaking three-year partnership with Raising A Reader, one of the nation’s largest and most successful family engagement literacy programs.

In recognition of the important and historic role the Masons have played in public education, Past Grand Masters Frank Loui and John Lowe, and current Grand Master John Cooper came together to envision and commit to a three-year pledge to support Raising A Reader.

Now that vision is a reality. With this gift, Raising A Reader will be able to install the program into 400 classrooms from among the lowest-performing public elementary schools that are at the highest risk for academic failure. This means that over 50,000 families will benefit from the Raising A Reader program.

Doug Ismail, Executive Vice President of the California Masonic Foundation remarks, "It is no great surprise that this has been one of the most successful fundraising efforts in our history. Members, lodges and leaders came together around an issue we as Masons care deeply about – serving children and strengthening families. We can be proud to know that we've made a huge difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable among us. This is what it means to be a Mason."

Raising A Reader teaches shared reading as a bonding tool. It not only provides quality age-appropriate books, but teaches families the skills to develop reading routines at home, and creates a support network in the community to help families sustain those routines.

Rosalind deLisser, a San Francisco parent whose child benefitted from Raising A Reader, says, “I believe that my children’s education, and their classmates education, is made richer, and more profound by the opportunity to read books from other places… And everybody knows that these book bags come from the Masons, and that is their contribution to our community.”

Extending Leadership through Advisory Councils

As the fraternity launched its three-year partnership with Raising A Reader, the California Masonic Foundation recruited Masonic leaders in six areas of the state to serve on the Public Schools Advisory Councils (PSAC). Among the duties of each PSAC was promoting our Raising A Reader partnership to lodges in their region and advocating for lodge gifts to bring the program to local schools.

The PSACs represent an opportunity to extend Masonic leadership at the local level in the context of the fraternity’s strategic plan to create a statewide program in support of public education. PSAC members extend the scope and reach of the fraternity in communities where Masons live and work.

Steve Sterns, who chairs the newest PSAC in the East Bay, feels passionately about his involvement. “I joined the Masons because they make a difference in the world. By strengthening families, we set kids up for success.“

“Masons have always been the sort of organization that isn’t looking for applause in the world – we’re just looking to help make our communities better. Raising A Reader helps us do that. It’s a fundamental benefit for me, my neighbors, and for Masonry and how we are viewed in the community.”

Masonic Fundraising at a New Level

As with other Masonic fundraising programs, the PSACs engaged in a bit of friendly competition to raise the most money for Raising A Reader. This year’s top performing PSAC was San Diego, where lodges in Division IX gave generously so that Raising A Reader could be installed in several local schools with high need.

David Rathgeber of Fallbrook has served on the San Diego PSAC each year since its inception. This year, he approached the three lodges of the 901st Masonic District about raising enough money to generate matching funds available through the Foundation to install Raising A Reader in new areas of the state.

"When I told the guys about the matching opportunity for our three lodges, their enthusiasm was immediate. I am so proud of these lodges, each of which contributed $5,000 to bring Raising A Reader to children and families in a school district here in North San Diego County.”

“Serving on the PSAC has given me an appreciation of how our fraternity can reach beyond our lodges and make a great impact in our communities. This is what being a Mason is all about.”

A History of Supporting Public Schools

The Masons of California have a rich history of supporting public schools. For over 90 years, California Freemasons have championed the cause of free access to quality education, dating back to 1920, when Grand Master Charles A. Adams committed the Masons to creating Public Schools Week. Raising A Reader is a logical extension of that effort.

Steve Sterns notes, “It is part of our long-term legacy as Masons to continue the work to improve our democracy. We do that through supporting access to education through strengthening families. It’s a critical part of American culture, and it’s a critical part of our success today as Americans. Everyone deserves to be able to read -- period.”
















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