Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Youtube  

The Bookworm

Today’s news from Everybody Wins! Iowa

When you read with a child, everybody wins!

The First Word

Karen Ligas, executive director

I hope your summer is off to a great start! Summer Power Read is under way at three schools, and we have space for a few mentors at Maple Grove in Waukee and Walnut Street School in Des Moines. If you’d like to read with a student this summer please contact Anna Sunstrom right away at asunstrom@everybodywinsiowa.org.

Summer also marks the end of the current fiscal year and with it changes in our leadership. We’re saying farewell and thank you to board members Tammy Blackwell (2019-2023), Jannay Towne (2014-2023), and Michael Yung (2020-2023), who just completed their terms. We are welcoming new board members Tyler Brommel, Valerie Gramlich, and Erika Schrader. Our new slate of officers takes over July 1. They include Amanda Bjornson, president; Amanda Ladd, vice president and personnel chair; Betsy Noyes, secretary; and Ken Chester, Jr., treasurer.

Be sure to check out the By the Book section at the end of the newsletter for our year-end data. You’ll learn details about things like the number of students served, books distributed, and volunteer hours. Also, mentors, if you haven't completed your year-end survey, there's still time to provide your input: https://forms.gle/VCF2hNWhyqFCieW56.

As always, we’re out and about in the community during the summer months. Be sure to look for us at Iowa Juneteenth Neighbor’s Day on June 17 from noon to 5 pm at Western Gateway Park, 1000 Grand Ave., in Des Moines.

And if you’d like to distribute books to young readers at summer meal sites, please email Anna Sunstrom at asunstrom@everybodywinsiowa.org to discuss availability and opportunities.

We had a great last day of Power Read at Perry Elementary School!

Our final day of Power Read at Lovejoy Elementary was absolutely fantastic!

Recently we asked parents for their thoughts on Power Read. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

"My son has enjoyed reading with his mentor very much, and his reading has really taken off this year. He loves to read, he's been reading a lot on his own in his free time, and he's really enjoyed the books he's received!"

"My daughter now volunteers to read and she is maintaining healthy relationships and choosing positive friends and is now also being a healthy friend and daughter. She is now very open-minded and sees different perspectives. She is excited to get new books and can't wait to read them now."

"Having another adult who cares about my kid has brought them happiness and they enjoy the Everybody Wins days."

Reading Room

Gaye Wiekierak is reading “Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants,” by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

Marty Katz is reading “The Last of the Doughboys” by Richard Rubin.

Staff Scene

Jill Downing, site coordinator

Jill Downing might be one of EWI’s newest site coordinators, but she has more institutional history than most in the organization. She was named to the original Board of Directors in 2002. “I was a mentor until 2009, when I moved to Oregon. I had such an affiliation with Monroe Elementary in Des Moines that when I moved back, I became the site coordinator there in 2022,” Jill says. In her new role she takes joy in observing Power Read in action. “My favorite thing is standing back once the students are seated with their mentors and seeing the magic and energy, seeing eyes light up, watching relationships being built through spoken and written words,” she says. As Jill looks to the future, she hopes to see more corporate involvement. “Corporate support will help us sustain our growth and development,” she notes. 

Director Details

Amanda Ladd, vice president

After eight years on the EWI Board of Directors, Amanda Ladd has just stepped into the role of vice president and she’s ready to build on recent momentum. “Coming off our twentieth anniversary celebration last year, I feel like we’re gaining visibility and developing meaningful partnerships,” she says. “And as terrible as Covid was, it put a spotlight on the importance of reading. So many studies have demonstrated students falling behind, and we’re positioned to cater to that need and grow our organization.” As EWI moves forward Amanda has two priorities. “It’s important to me to develop good local partnerships and enhance the diversity of our mentors,” she says. Amanda reads at Greenwood Elementary School in Des Moines and serves on the Recruitment Committee.

Picture This

The 2023 Iowa Juneteenth Neighbor’s Day event will take place on June 17 from noon to 8 pm in Western Gateway Park at 1000 Grand Ave. in Des Moines. Everybody Wins! Iowa will have volunteers on site from noon to 5 pm with children’s activities and to chat about Power Read. Please be sure to stop by and say hi.

Follow us on social media (links at the top and bottom of this email), visit our website, and look for updates in future newsletters for more details on these and future events.

Super Sponsors

The cost to support a summer Power Read student is $75. Would you like to help sponsor a student this summer? Please click here to donate.

We are always grateful for the support of all our program sponsors. Our May donors include: 


John Deere Financial


United Way of Central Iowa (Power Read monthly grant)

$912.00 - Kinship Brewing Company (2023 Q1 partnership)

$518.59 - Kim Norvell

$250.00 - Valerie Gramlich

$519.00 - Elizabeth Heffernan

$500.00 - ITA Group Foundation

Make A Difference

Want to donate? Click here.

Interested in mentoring, joining the board, or serving on a committee? Click here.

Have an idea or suggestion for Power Read, Everybody Wins! Iowa, or The Bookworm? Click here.

By The Book

Everybody Wins! Iowa is a central Iowa non-profit organization whose mission is to increase children’s success in school and life through one-to-one reading and mentoring experiences with caring volunteers. Our signature program is Power Read, in which students read with the same volunteer mentor every week, usually over lunch. Here’s our year-end data:

Total students enrolled as of May 31, 2023: 386

Other volunteers: 33

Total books distributed: 3,207

Student attendance: 91%

Total mentors as of May 31, 2023: 412

Total volunteers (including mentors): 445

Total volunteer hours: 6,040

Mentor attendance: 86%

Everybody Wins! Iowa


(515) 277-7590 | info@everybodywinsiowa.org

Facebook  Twitter  Instagram  Youtube