Nonprofit PC READS expands, set to host second fundraiser
It was hard for Elissa Aten to imagine five years ago what would come of her dream to create a nonprofit to help children with dyslexia in Park City. But when she sees the numerous kids the nonprofit PC READS helps every year, she believes the organization is on the right track.
PC READS is in its fifth year of operation, and it is expanding. Aten, the co-founder and former president of the board of directors, was recently hired as the organization’s first executive director. The group has also grown its membership, and it plans to host its second annual fundraiser on May 3.
Aten said moving into an executive director role will allow her to have more oversight over the multiple programs the nonprofit runs. It is the nonprofit’s first paid position.
“I’m really excited about this position, because I think it is a really necessary strategic step to ensure the sustainability of PC READS,” she said. “In this role, I really want to continue sharing the message that investing in PC READS is truly investing in literacy, and it makes an immediate impact on our students’ futures and community.”
She said the nonprofit hopes to add more positions and secure an office space in the next few years.
The new president of the board will be Emily Fisher, who became involved with PC READS four years ago while seeking services and support for her daughter, who is dyslexic.
PC READS has multiple programs that help students with reading disabilities. Its Advocate Program has six certified advocates who help more than 40 families develop action plans so their children get the support they need at home and at school. There are also 60 students in the MIND Youth Program, which connects dyslexic students through social and educational activities.
The nonprofit also runs a professional development grant program for teachers in the area.
Aten said the need for the program’s services has grown exponentially over the years. She said it is due to growing awareness about what dyslexia is and how to identify it.
PC READS, along with help from the Hall Family Fund, the Park City Education Foundation and the Park City School District, helped implement new training and teaching tools for instructors and interventionists teaching reading to students. The initiative, called Wilson Fundations Language Training program, helps students with and without reading disabilities. It has been in place in Park City elementary schools for the last three years.
Aten said she is proud to see the program continue.
The nonprofit is hosting its second annual fundraiser, called Gin and Phonics, in order to raise money to pay for its programs. The fundraiser is scheduled to take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on May 3, at the Rockwell Room on Main Street. The event will include live music, opportunity drawings and the presentation of the nonprofit’s Elevating Literacy Award.
The award honors an individual who has helped improve the lives of students with reading disabilities. This year’s award will go to Julie Hastings, the elementary curriculum specialist for the Park City School District.
Hastings has helped PC READS and the district implement Wilson Fundations into the classrooms. She was nominated for the award and chosen by a selection committee.
Aten said the nonprofit created the award last year in order to honor people whose work might go unrecognized outside of their organizations.
“It’s just really important to celebrate these individuals who are passionate about literacy,” she said. She said the nonprofit hopes to raise about $15,000 at the event. Fisher said the event is important because it allows the nonprofit to spread community awareness about reading disabilities and let residents know what resources are available to them.
To purchase tickets for the Gin and Phonics event, visit pcreads.org. Aten said those who cannot attend the event can participate in the opportunity drawing by purchasing tickets for the drawing online.
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