Jean Rundle's dream was to provide every child in the Kansas City urban core a reading mentor. She and her husband Lynn started Lead to Read KC in 2011 to make her dream a reality.
The need was real. Jean first realized that when she started working with a group of at-risk kids who were struggling to read at grade level. After digging deeper, they found almost 75% of children living in poverty are not reading on grade level by the third grade. This makes them four times more likely to drop out of school.
What started as a dream quickly grew thanks to Jean’s vision. Lead to Read KC began pairing caring adults with at-risk students to help them improve basic reading skills. These weekly reading relationships proved powerful for both the student and the adult volunteer. However, just as the program was taking off, Jean was diagnosed with a heart condition that unexpectedly took her life in 2013. Lynn vowed to honor his wife’s memory by keeping her Lead to Read KC dream alive.
Today the program has taken Kansas City by storm and has endered itself to the 1,100 volunteers which make up our force of reading mentors. Each week we pair these reading mentors with over 1,100 students in 51 urban classrooms for one-on-one intentional reading mentoring sessions. The program’s growing fast and setting the standard for community engagement around literacy in our city!