Children’s Literacy Initiative (CLI) is no stranger to change. Over our nearly 35-year existence, we have gone from a bookfair supporting local teachers and children with quality literature to becoming a nationwide educational non-profit that impacts the lives and professions of over 70,000 students and more than 3,500 teachers per year. 

CLI has continued to grow and evolve, refining its approach and, recently, sharpening its mission to better reflect its work and purpose and meet the needs of school partners, teachers, and children it serves. As CLI strengthens its imprint as an anti-racist organization, it maintains the focus of transforming early literacy and learning for young children. 

We now find ourselves in a new season of change as we say goodbye to our CEO, Joel Zarrow, on June 3. Under Joel’s leadership, CLI has grown tremendously, winning the highly competitive $19 million i3 Scale-up grant to expand into 27 public schools across the country in Broward County (FL), Denver, Elizabeth (NJ), and Houston (TX) in 2015. Additionally, in 2017, the Library of Congress awarded CLI its top honor, the David M. Rubenstein Prize, for its outstanding and measurable contribution to increasing literacy levels. CLI is thankful to Joel for his years of thoughtful service and wish him well.  

We are happy to announce that Reina Prowler will serve as CLI’s Interim CEO. As Deputy Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer, Reina has worked with CLI for four years, leading CLI to become a more impactful, equitable and anti-racist organization, revamping human resource management and recruitment operations, and transforming CLI’s financial systems. We are thrilled to have someone with her experience, institutional knowledge, and passion for our mission to guide us as we enter this next chapter of working in school districts nationwide.

Over the next few months, CLI will unveil more details about some of the exciting new changes and opportunities across the organization, including a newly revamped online learning platform, a grant from the Gates Foundation to evaluate our work in preschools, and a collaboration with CLI Literacy Ambassador and New York Times Best-Selling author, Jason Reynolds. You can see the first fruits of this collaboration this month at our annual fundraiser, Raise a Glass for Reading, on Thursday, May 19. Visit for more information. 

CLI remains committed to dismantling structural racism by providing Black and Latinx children with the anti-racist early literacy instruction, support, and advocacy needed to create equity in education. And we look forward to the road ahead.  

As more details become available regarding the search, we will share these updates with you via email and our website. 

Thank you for your continued support of CLI and our mission.  

Sandra LaFluer
CLI Board Chair