Program History


1995:   Reading Seed Children’s Literacy Program was started by two members of St. Francis in the Foothills, Elizabeth Fimbres and Lita Bratt, who wanted to positively impact children’s literacy in Pima County. By 2003, Reading Seed had grown to 150 reading coaches working in 13 schools, and coordination and leadership of the program was provided solely by committed volunteers like Debbie Rich and Allan Tractenberg.

2003:   Rotary Club of Tucson chose literacy as the focus for their recognition of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Rotary International in 2004, and identified Reading Seed as a willing partner in achieving the vision developed by the club.

2004:   Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona provided an in-kind donation of office space for five years. Rotary Club of Tucson members provided volunteer labor and secured in-kind donations to build out the donated space into comfortable, modern offices. The program expanded to 8 school districts in Pima County. Between 2004 and 2008, Rotary Club of Tucson provided almost all funding required by the Reading Seed program.

2005:   The Reading Seed Lending Library came into being with funding from the Qwest Foundation and Rotary Club of Tucson members, as well as with support from the UA College of Education and the Tucson-Pima Public Library. The library has grown to 17,000 books for children in kindergarten through 12th grade.

UA College of Education developed and implemented a student assessment program to measure the effectiveness of the Reading Seed program. They found that 87% of students working with a Reading Seed Reading Coach progressed at least one reading level in only two months

2008:   Reading Seed became a separate 501c3 nonprofit organization and the Rotary Club of Tucson extended its support until the year 2014.  The Rotary Club of Tucson pledged to continue significant financial support and active participation on Reading Seed board and committees.

2009:   Reading Seed was proud to be one of three beneficiaries of the 2009 Tucson Festival of Books, a relationship that continues today.

2011:   In May 2011, the boards representing Reading Seed, Literacy for Life Coalition, Literacy Volunteers of Tucson, Reach Out and Read Southern Arizona, and Stories That Soar! voted to merge and create one powerful organization to lead a literacy movement in our community.

Together, we chose the name Literacy Connects to represent our new merged identity.