Learning Transformed

From the CEO - Joel Zarrow, Ph.D.

At a time like this, I think we need to pause, however briefly, to be amazed at the tenacity and passion shown by so many in education. In a normal year, classes would be in full-swing, but this is anything but a normal year. Students are still adjusting to new classroom models, parents are adjusting to helping their students learn from their laptops, and educators across the country are trying to find new, inventive ways to keep kids engaged from afar. In just a few months we’ve all made great strides in trying to give students across the country the education they deserve no matter the circumstance.
Here at Children’s Literacy Initiative, we’ve been working to ensure that the many hurdles in the way of online education are mitigated. We’re working with Chicago donors to provide our Chicago students with at-home resources so they can stay healthy and engaged. We are partnering with wonderful organizations and individuals across the country to help the many students we serve get what they need to keep learning outside the traditional classroom setting. And we're providing coaches and teachers with hours of online workshops and resources to make virtual teaching easier.
This is hard work—not just for the team at CLI, but for the teachers, families and students who rely on us. And while we recognize that there’s still so much work to be done in education—both during and after this pandemic—we’re also confident that together we can continue to pursue our mission and create lasting change for the better.
Be Well,

Joel Zarrow, CEO


Gratitude Corner

We thank all the donors who have supported CLI over the past several months, including the following Leadership Donors:
  • Adam and Sylvia Spector
  • Adam Ernst
  • Allen H. and Selma W. Berkman Charitable Trust
  • Anonymous x4
  • Children's Services Council of Broward County
  • Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation
  • Ian Mellis & Emily Fessler
  • Jacob Jones
  • JY, an Imprint of YEN PRESS, LLC
  • Lilli Petruzzelli
  • PTS Foundation - Tony and Pam Schneider
  • Steans Family Foundation
  • Vert Charitable Trust
  • Vertex Inc.
  • Walter J. Miller Trust
  • William and Sylvia Cohen
  • William Penn Foundation

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

A Very Special Book List

A key part of CLI’s mission is providing classrooms with diverse children’s books that both reflect the lives of the students we serve and give them windows to the larger world. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we are sharing with you a list of some of the books we use in classrooms to honor the cultures and contributions of both Hispanic and Latin Americans.
Check out the list here! >>

Introducing: A New Breakfast Series

From forging new partnerships in Omaha and Massachusetts to gearing up to launch a new pre-K curriculum, a lot is happening at CLI. To keep everyone informed, we’ve launched a quarterly breakfast briefing series. Here, you can learn all about what we’re doing, ask the CEO questions about our plans and their impact, and explore ways you can help.

Click here to watch our first virtual briefing and Q&A. It provides funding partners and leadership circle donors an inside look at school services for the fall and how CLI is helping to address the needs of districts across the country.

See the video! >>

Save the Date for Giving Tuesday!

Giving Tuesday 2020 is December 1st. Mark your calendars now and plan to donate on this national day of giving!

We're setting a goal of doubling the number of donors who gave on Giving Tuesday 2019, and we'll need your help to reach it! Keep an eye out on November 30th for more details on how to make your Giving Tuesday donation to CLI. If interested in recommending a grant from your donor-advised fund (DAF), it’s not too early to explore the new DAF Direct Widget on our donation page. The widget makes it easy for you to give through your Fidelity Charitable, Schwab Charitable or BNY Mellon Charitable account.

Check out the DAF Direct Widget! >> 

A Generous Gift

From JY, an Imprint of Yen Press

To celebrate its third anniversary on September 22, the JY imprint of Yen Press presented CLI with a very generous gift. JY publishes graphic novels for middle-grade readers. Soon after the donation, CLI discovered we already offer a JY Berrybrook middle school book, Brave by Svetlana Chmakova, in one of CLI’s Independent Reading supplemental book collections. Informed of CLI’s use of Brave, the imprint’s founder JuYoun Lee wrote, "It is really wonderful to hear that one of our books is supporting the cause."

"This is exactly the kind of book we are looking for: promoting diversity, inclusion and a truly engaging reading experience for children," says Galen Longstreth, CLI’s Associate Manager of Book Collections.
CLI thanks JY for its generous gift and its wonderful books!

Spotlight: Creating a Climate of Care

with Jennifer Soalt and Bridget Nolen

We wouldn't be where we are without our wonderful content team, and today we want to showcase some of their amazing and impactful work. CLI’s own Jennifer Soalt and Bridget Nolen were recently featured in Greater Good Magazine for their work on helping teachers create a climate of care in school this fall, and they gave some powerful, important advice. We’re so glad to see them share their insight and expertise. 

Check out the article here! >>

A 4-Star Review from Charity Navigator

CLI is proud to announce that it again has been rated a 4-star charity by Charity Navigator. Only 25% of charities evaluated received 3 or more consecutive 4-star reviews, and CLI is proud to say that it’s in that top percentile. When informed of the good news, CLI CEO Joel Zarrow said, "It’s an honor to be given this distinction, and even more of an honor to be trusted by so many donors. With your help, we’ll continue to work hard to fulfill our mission and ensure that all children are given the opportunity to become powerful readers, writers and thinkers."

Make a gift. 

Empower a child.

Donate Here! >>


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