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District 6960 Literacy Committee

One of the seven Area of Focus for Rotary International is Supporting Education. Our goal is to strengthen the capacity of communities to support basic education and literacy, reduce gender disparity in education, and increase adult literacy. We support education for all children and literacy for children and adults. The Rotary Foundation (TRF) supports education through scholarships, donations, and service projects around the world.

Our Vision
To provide diverse literacy opportunities for every adult and child to increase their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills in order to reach their fullest potential.

Our Mission

  • To provide a variety of literacy opportunities in our district that show a measurable impact on the literacy skills of our adult population and children in PK – 8
  • To provide ideas for options for creating literacy projects, initiatives, and partnerships in our district
  • To provide support for clubs in the implementation of literacy projects and initiatives in our district

Our Charge

Provide the tools, resources, and support to increase the actionable and measurable outcomes for literacy initiatives and projects in our district to combat literacy issues.

Strategic Plan

This ‘road map’ to guide the work of the committee was approved by DG Andy Lyman in 2021. It is a living document that is adjusted by the committee as the literacy needs of the district change.  Click here to download the Strategic Plan.


Committee Members

Dee Fabry, Chair - Bonita Naples Rotary Club 

Sandra Hemstead PDG, RI Assistant Regional Rotary Foundation Coordinator, Zone 34 - Bonita Beach Sunset Rotary Club

Nancy Rozance, Rotary Youth Services Director - Rotary Club of Longboat Key

Anne Bolger, External Grants Coordinator - Bonita Naples Rotary Club

Laura Randall, President – Rotary Club of Sarasota 

 Steve Lampar, Director, Marco Island Club, YMCA Marco Island 

Teresa Taft, Chief of Staff for DGE Andy Lyman, foundation President Sarasota Sunrise, IPP Sarasota Sunrise

Ted Lindenberg, Director, Books for Kids, Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch  


Join the Literacy Team

Florida has the third highest percentage of adults lacking basic literacy skills equaling 80%. Florida has the lowest number of public libraries per 100,000 residents. Florida has a population of 22,894,140. 80% of 23 million = 18.3 million. That means only 4.6 million adults in the state of Florida have adequate literacy skills. What does this mean for those without adequate skills? What does this mean for our economy? What does it mean for our democratic process? What does it mean for the quality of life for those who are not literate?

Only 35% of fourth graders are reading at or above grade level so 65% are reading below grade level. Approximately 64% of eighth graders are reading below grade level.

To reduce the rate of adult illiteracy, we must increase the literacy rate among children.

What is the impact of child illiteracy?

  • 1 in 6 high school students (1.2 million) drop out of school each year
  • Student who enter kindergarten without readiness skills are most likely to drop out
  • 80% of children living in poverty lose reading skills over breaks due to a lack of books and other resources
  • Children who cannot read cannot learn

Literacy statistics for District 6960

Florida ranks in the bottom 25% in adult literacy and numeracy skills. Florida ranks 42nd lowest out of 50 states. These statistics help us to understand the need for both adult and children’s literacy programs in our local communities. If you are interested in serving on the committee, please contact the committee chair, Dee Fabry at

Literacy Programs, Initiative, and Activities      

Our clubs are taking action to increase literacy knowledge and skills in our communities.

Here are some of those:

Books for Kids – District Grant

The Books For Kids mission is to help raise the reading levels of elementary school students by providing the students with reading and listening comprehension skills, developing character traits and transferring the love of reading and the love of books from the reader to the child. There is a need, more than ever, to help these children. In the recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is the federal gold standard of 4th grade testing throughout the Unites States, 2/3 of all the students tested were found to be not proficient in reading or reading below grade level.

In our counties in Florida, a large percentage of students are reading below grade level and research indicates that children who are not reading on grade level by the end of the third grade are likely to have problems with reading the rest of their lives. Coupled with that is the loss from two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Books for Kids volunteers go through a training session and when then is completed, they are assigned to a school, grade and teacher. The volunteer will go into the classroom with a special "read aloud" book and questions related to the book. We are asking for a true book discussion with the boys and girls; we want them to think critically. After the discussion, students are given a book. A book that they can treasure, read, bring home, read to their brothers and sisters and most importantly, build their own home library.   

Sharon and Jack share his new book.

Third grade students at Bonita Springs Charter School created imaginary places after reading the delightful Roxaboxen with Rotary Literacy Ambassador volunteers.

How You Can Get Involved/Engaged in Supporting Literacy

Ask questions – Create partnerships

What are the needs at your local library, elementary and secondary school or community?

Who in your club are educators? What are the needs in their schools?

What literacy councils are working in your community? Visit them and find out how you can partner with them.

What adult literacy programs are in need of volunteers?

Join the Books for Kids District Grant.

The Rotary Club of Longboat Key distributed books to the following groups:

  • A pre-school in downtown Sarasota
  • Foster children in the Children's Guardian Fund Program in Sarasota, FL
  • Homeless children served by Stillpoint Mission in Bradenton, FL
  • Children of migrant farm workers in Arcadia, FL

The Rotary Club of Manatee River committed $500 to the Books for Kids grant. That money is being used to purchase reading books for Daughtrey students, working with Principal Shelby Bench to select books for the classes most in need of reading assistance.

The Bonita Naples Rotary Club Books for Kids programs served 600 kindergarten through third grade students at Bonita Springs Charter School by providing a book for each student on his/her reading level and partnering with third grade teachers on Fun Fridays for a read aloud.

YMCA of Bonita Springs and the Bonita Naples Club sponsored a Family Reading Fiesta. Every family received a literacy goody bag and free books.


District 6960 District Designed Funds – Books for Kids is a DDF program. Ted Lindenburg is the contact. Email Ted.

External Grant Opportunities

Anne Bolger, committee member, complied this list of literacy funding opportunities. It is up to each club to pursue these funding sources. If you need help in filing out the applications, let the literacy committee know. Send an e-mail request to Dee Fabry, Committee Chair at

[Link the document titled External Funding Opportunities]


PowerPoint Slide Deck for presenting need for literacy to your clubs. Click here to download.


Aligning Read Aloud Books to Build Goodwill and Better Friendships

One of the goals of the Rotary Club of Bonita Naples Books for Kids Program is to develop a strong partnership with the third-grade classroom teachers at Bonita Springs Charter School. Read aloud books are selected in collaboration with the teachers to align with their school’s curriculum, as well as Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Students.

March was Women in History Month and the selected reading book was Michelle’s Garden: How the First Lady Planted Seeds of Change, written by Sharee Miller. The habit of focus was number seven, “Sharpen the Saw.”

Melissa Armitage, one of the third-grade teachers, commented on the book, “I loved last week’s story, it tied in great with science, women in history month, and habit seven, sharpen the saw, take care of your mind, body and soul.” Armitage also thanked Dee Fabry, District 6960 Literacy Chair and volunteer for the program, saying, “Thanks so much for Books for Kids! They love their books.” Click here for the learning activity guide.

“Tools for Learning – Partnering to Change Lives Through Literacy”

Area II Rotary Clubs and the Literacy Council Gulf Coast Partnership

The Literacy Council Gulf Coast (LCGC) has provided literacy services for family literacy, adult literacy, and worksite literacy for over 33 years. The mission statement is “To assist adults and children to acquire the English literacy skills and education necessary to improve their quality of life and enhance the entire community”.

To support furthering this mission the Area Two Rotary clubs, including the Rotary Clubs of Bonita Springs, Bonita Naples, Bonita Beach Sunset, and Estero, are partnering with the LCGC to assemble gift/goodie bags filled with materials to help students reach their literacy goals.  The groups are gathering the following items for the bags: 

  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • One subject notebooks
  • Side by Side adult curriculum books, levels 1-4
  • Oxford Picture Dictionary
  • S. Citizenship book and study guide
  • Spanish/English dictionary
  • Books for preschool children
  • Children’s scissors, crayons and construction paper
  • Lined loose leaf writing paper

For information about the LCGC visit

To learn more about this partnership contact Dee Fabry, District 6960 Literacy Chair, at, or Eileen Tasso, President-elect of the Rotary Club of Bonita Springs.

6960 District Governor

Kelsey Mitchell
District Governor, 2024-2025

Area Governors
Ted Fitzpatrick
Area 1

Dee Fabry
Area 2

Annie Campbell
Area 3

Lisa Musial
Area 4

Priya Ahluwalia
Area 5

Kathryn Wallace
Area 6

Thomas Hinck
Area 7

Barry Levinson
Area 8

Mark Midyett
Area 9