Program Focus: Bringing Up a Bookworm

Bringing Up a Bookworm, which provides children with foundational reading skills by encouraging parents to read aloud to them from the day they are born, is an inspiring example of what an organization can achieve through fiscal sponsorship. Bringing Up a Bookworm has been with HSI for a year now and has been working hard to expand their outreach since they first launched.

Marsha Townsend, the organization’s founder, is a fourth grade teacher in the Schuylkill Valley School District. During her free time in the summer she worked diligently to bring more books to the youth of Berks County.

“I’ve mostly been working on sending out letters to various doctors’ offices in the Berks County area. Hopefully by the end of the month I will have reached all offices,” said Marsha.

As of now, Bringing Up a Bookworm is in five doctors’ offices around Berks County. Each office receives 15-25 copies of Mem Fox’s book, “Reading Magic”, for their young patients’ parents along with a postcards that explain Bookworm’s mission and vision.

“Each office has reordered, and we expect them to reorder again at the end of the month! The response from the offices has been great. They always say they love the bags, and their patients are really excited about the books—they’re appreciative.”

When we asked Marsha if she had any advice for new nonprofits, she had this to say:

“Get some money under [your] belt. Have some type of financial footing, a base, to get started with. I didn’t have any of that, so when I started I had to get businesses interested first then order my supplies. Now I have to keep it going. I’ve started. I have to finish.”

As for the future, Marsha would love to get to the point where she is able to supply gift bags to all the doctors’ offices in Berks County. In a few years, she’d like to stretch into other counties and eventually go national.

Marsha is looking for more personal feedback from the parents that receive her gift bags. Each bag of books includes a postcard with Marsha’s contact information. If you or a member of your family receives a gift bag, please don’t hesitate to contact her so she can improve her outreach.