Young Student  Literacy Program

at the Neff Early Learning Center in Sharpstown, Houston, Texas

Yes! Something very special is happening at HISD Neff Early Learning Center in Sharpstown: the students are learning to read, reading to others, and teaching others to read! How is this happening?
The pilot project for this program, "Eradicating Illiteracy," was begun in 2013. Principal Gerardo Leal, Ed. D. and his staff, Rotarians of the Rotary Club of Sharpstown, Disney, ABC Channel 13 's Vice-President at the time, Cynthia Cisneros, First Book Washington DC, Houston Team First Book's board members, plus many volunteers and organizations were determined to make the pilot program a success!  Now the program is in its 10th year!  
Donations are made to Houston Team First Book from Sharpstown Rotarians, individuals and other organizations. Volunteers come together to obtain, sort and distribute these brand new books to keep!
There are 680+ pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and 1st grade students at Neff ELC. These students receive brand new books from First Book and DISNEY through the Houston Team First Book Board. Some of the first grade students are already reading on a 2nd or 3rd grade reading level! And some of these students are also teaching others to read!!!
Book distributions are filmed by students from the Jack Valenti School of Communication, University of Houston, under the direction of Ward Booth, Media Production Manager, and teachers. These films have been entered into the World/Fest International Film Festival Competition. Last April 29th 2017, "Eradicating Illiteracy 2016" won a GOLD REMI Award! There were over 1,500 submissions in different categories from 74 countries. 74 countries were represented at the awards gala.
This was the 4th GOLD REMI Award for the "Eradicating Illiteracy" pilot program at Neff ELC! DISNEY asked and received permission to use "Eradicating Illiteracy 2015" for its National Reading Campaign 2016-2017.
Rotarians from Sharpstown Rotary make donations and volunteer for obtaining, sorting and distribution of the books at Neff ELC. Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Houston also join in the "Eradicating Illiteracy" project. The program is so successful it is to be extended to other HISD Early Learning Centers.
One Neff ELC student said: "I read when I get home because I am so excited. I am going to be the smartest kid in school". Another student stated, "I love my new books because I am going to be a heart doctor. I will fix people's hearts so they feel good. Then they will do good things."
First Book and DISNEY have donated brand new books to Neff ELC and other schools with students from low-income families, children's hospitals, and women's shelters in the Greater Houston areas. The need is ongoing to receive more books for the students of Neff ELC because some families change schools during the school year and the first grade students leave to go into the second grade.
To make donations to spread this successful program, please donate to: Team First Book Houston