ABOUT US

WHO WE SERVE

Starting in 4th grade, schools expect students to transition from “learning to read” in the early grades to “reading to learn.” After 5th grade, students often receive little to no explicit reading instruction in their classrooms, and often teachers of this age group are not trained to teach reading skills. Students are expected to read and interpret texts in a variety of subject areas and genres, but often lack the skills to do so. When children who are behind their grade-level peers do not receive the instruction they need, they simply fall further and further behind. Students with poor literacy skills are twice as likely to drop out of school compared to their peers, and—as adults—are less likely to find employment and support a family. They are also more likely to require public assistance and are more likely to go to prison.

That’s why at READ 718 we provide individualized literacy instruction and mentorship to low-income students in grades 3-8 who are reading below grade level. Our after school program participants (READers) are in grades 3-8 and come from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The majority attend school in Brooklyn’s Districts 13 and 15, and come from many Brooklyn neighborhoods including Boerum Hill, Fort Greene, Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Sunset Park and Clinton Hill. Over 95% of our READers are eligible for free lunch at school.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

KEITH BROOKS
Keith has been opening gates since 2002 as a principal, assistant principal, dean, grade level chair and teacher. Since 2012, Mr. Brooks has been the founding principal of Achievement First Brownsville Middle School. Prior to that, he served as the dean of academic culture at Achievement First East New York Middle School from 2010-2012. Before coming to Achievement First, Mr. Brooks served the students of Miami Dade County for seven years; three years as an assistant principal and four years as a grade level chair/teacher. Keith is married and the father of three children, the oldest of whom currently attends AF Brownsville Middle. Mr. Brooks earned a B.A. in philosophy and religion at Colgate University and received a master’s degree in educational leadership at Nova Southeastern University.

RAI-TONICIA KING
Rai is a lifelong educator with a B.A. in Early Childhood Development from Spelman College.  She has taught in several school settings including private, public, charter, and parochial schools.  Rai earned her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction and Gifted Education from Arizona State University in 2017.  Her passions include working with students in traditionally underserved communities, literacy development, and instructional coaching.  She initially came to Read 718 as a volunteer with the program and enjoyed her time immensely.  Rai lives in Brooklyn with her husband and five children.

MICHAEL KIRVEN
Michael was the co-founder and former CEO of Bluewolf and Mondo International. Michael currently sits on the board of Mondo and is launching the 1834 Project, a philanthropic initiative focused in Brooklyn. He received a BA in English from the University of Georgia. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and three children, and is also currently a volunteer tutor at READ 718.

TAMIA B. SANTANA
Tamia B. Santana is the Executive Director and founder of The Brooklyn Dance Festival and Jeté Dance Center. She was born, raised and is currently raising her family in Brooklyn, NY and an advocate for the arts. Tamia serves on the Board of Directors for One Brooklyn to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the Resident Dance Director of the Brooklyn Museum, and this year’s proud Producer of the 2018 Bessie New York Dance and Performance Awards. As a prominent concert dance producer, she has executive produced and directed concerts and events at Brooklyn Academy of Music, Alvin Ailey, Summer Stage, The Schomburg Center, The Brooklyn Arts and more. Her previous experience as a dancer has been performing at venues such as Madison Square Garden, Carnegie Hall, The Apollo Theater, Lincoln Center, and in Europe.

 
TAD SENNOTT
Tad is a partner at Prince Street Capital, an emerging market asset management company. He has served on the boards of the National Theater Workshop of the Handicapped, Grand Street Settlement House, and Free Arts NYC. Tad has volunteered with J.U.M.P., a youth mentoring program, as well as with GMHC. Tad graduated with a BA in History from Beloit College. He currently lives in Brooklyn with his wife and twin sons.

 
ERIN TEXEIRA
Erin is a writer, editor and volunteer with a passion for widening opportunities to underserved communities through education and the arts. During her fifteen-year newspaper career, she was an award-winning staff writer at the Associated Press, Newsday and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications. Her coverage focused on race/ethnicity, demographics and social justice movements. Since 2007, Erin has worked as a freelance writer and editor. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Brooklyn Children’s Theatre, is a Vice President of the Parents’ Association at Poly Prep Country Day School, and a member of the Whitman Circle at the Brooklyn Public Library. Erin received a B.A. in Mass Communications from the University of California at Berkeley and an M.S. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Born and raised in southern California, Erin now lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, with her husband and two children.

SHARON WURTZEL
Sharon brings more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit and public sector leadership roles focusing on expanding opportunity for low-income communities. She has spent her career developing innovative solutions to complex social problems and thrives in the creative space where policy and implementation meet. She co-founded and built a youth development agency in San Francisco widely regarded as a model in the social enterprise arena. There she launched and managed four for-profit businesses providing jobs and training opportunities to hundreds of at-risk youth. Later she managed the turnaround of a $100 million housing subsidy program as Assistant Commissioner of New York City’s housing agency and conceived and developed housing-linked employment and asset-building programs. She has been a consultant to numerous New York City nonprofit youth development, community development and education organizations focusing on organizational strategy and capacity building. She was the founding board chair of Generation Schools Network, a national education reform organization, and also serves on several other nonprofit and foundation boards. She earned a BA from Yale University and MBA and Certificate in Public Management from Stanford University. Sharon lives in Brooklyn with her husband and children and a fish named Yeti.

OUR SUPPORTERS

A big thank you to everyone who has contributed to and continues to support READ 718. Your donations make it possible for us to do the work we do. We couldn’t do it without you.

CORPORATE AND FOUNDATION SUPPORT 2018-2019

AEG Community Foundation

ALLINBKLYN Foundation

Anderson-Rogers Foundation

Brookfield Properties

Con Edison

Council Member Stephen Levin, District 33

Henry E. Niles Foundation

Laura B. Vogler Foundation

LB & TD Foundation

William M. and Miriam F. Meehan Foundation

Messing Family Charitable Foundation

Plymouth Church Christian Help Committee

Seedworks Fund

Scripps Howard Foundation

TD Charitable Foundation

Wellmet Philanthropy at NY Community Trust

White Cedar Fund

INDIVIDUALS

HUGE thanks to our many individual supporters! We are so grateful for all of your contributions, big and small. YOU are making a positive difference in your community. Thank you.

STAFF

EMILY KIRVEN, FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
As an English Language Arts teacher in a Brooklyn middle school, READ 718 founder Emily Kirven was faced with a particular challenge: many of her middle school students were reading far below grade level and her training as a secondary English teacher did not help her address these students’ needs.Frustrated by her inability to help these students efficiently and directly, and recognizing the problem as widespread, Emily returned to Teachers College, Columbia University to earn an MA and state certification as a Reading Specialist with the goal of gaining a better understanding of how to help struggling middle grade and adolescent readers.After graduating in 2013, Emily worked to develop and build READ 718, opening the reading center’s doors to the community in January 2015. Emily lives in Brooklyn with her husband and three children.

SUSANNAH TAYLOR, COO/DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT Susannah is Chief Operating Officer and Director of Development at READ 718. Prior to joining the staff of READ 718, she was a founding board member, serving on the board from 2015 until 2018. Before joining READ 718, she was Director of Finance at Malia Mills, a fashion company headquartered in Brooklyn, and spent 10 years working at Goldman Sachs in investment banking. She served on the board of Brooklyn Heights Montessori School from 2006 to 2012 and currently serves on the board of the Brooklyn Community Foundation. Susannah graduated from Princeton University with a BA in English Literature. Raised in Memphis, Tennessee, she moved to New York City in 1990 and to Brooklyn in 2002, where she lives in Park Slope with her husband and three daughters.

RACHEL FUCCI, PROGRAM MANAGER Rachel was born and raised in a small Massachusetts town, but always had big dreams of becoming a writer and moving to New York City. She attended Emerson College in Boston where she majored in Writing, Literature & Publishing, but she also spent time working for several non-profit education organizations dedicated to serving the city’s youth. She is so excited to merge her love of words and storytelling with her passion for working with students as part of READ 718. When she’s not at work, you can find her reading and writing all kinds of nonfiction and studying up on pop culture.

ESTHER GLASGOW, PROGRAM MANAGER Esther grew up in New York City and has tutored throughout the city for seven years. During this time, she has worked with many children from underserved communities. She earned her BA in Psychology from Hunter College and an MSEd in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania. Her passions include children advocacy, homeschooling, and family outreach. In the future, she hopes to continue to positively affect educational achievement, providing all kids with the opportunity for academic excellence.

M. FRANCIS, PROGRAM COORDINATOR Mahogany’s love for reading and writing began when she was a kid and has never wavered. She earned her BA in English and American Literature from NYU and loves the city. She has a passion for helping others with their reading and writing and is excited to work with READ 718 and the community to engage students with the love of literacy.

VOLUNTEERS

READ 718 volunteer literacy tutors are the heart of our program. Our tutors have a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, but all are committed to helping Brooklyn’s children improve their literacy skills and develop a love of reading. We are so grateful for their commitment and energy, and truly could not do our work without them. If you are interested in becoming a READ 718 tutor, contact us today.

THANK YOU TUTORS!