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The Bookworm

Today’s news from Everybody Wins! Iowa

When you read with a child, everybody wins!

The First Word

Karen Ligas, executive director

Fall is here, and that means we’re kicking into high gear at Everybody Wins! Iowa!

We’re launching a new year of Power Read, a year of celebrations in honor of our 20th anniversary, and a return to in-person trivia. Here’s what we’re excited about:

  • Retired U.S. Senator Tom Harkin, who brought EWI to Iowa 20 years ago, joined us for our special anniversary event last month. It was a festive evening that celebrated our passion for reading and mentoring. “I feel good about what you’ve done and how far you’ve come,” Harkin said in his remarks. “Just keep doing it. Keep reading books with these students and getting their imaginations stimulated. Get onto the next 20 years!” Click here to see photos and a video from our special night.
  • Power Read is getting under way! We are returning to 30 schools in person this year. We’re starting with mentor site orientations Sept. 22 to 30 at most schools and will begin reading with students in early October.
  • Are you interested in becoming a site coordinator? We have five part-time (paid) positions open. Please contact Stacy Pearce at spearce@everybodywinsiowa.org if you’d like to join our staff.
  • Mentors are still needed at the following schools: Emerson in Indianola (Tuesdays); Perry (Wednesdays); and Cowles (Tuesdays), Stowe (Thursdays), and McKinley (Fridays) in Des Moines. Please contact Anna Sunstrom at asunstrom@everybodywinsiowa.org if you’d like to join us in making a difference in the life of a child.
  • Trivia is back! Gather your book-loving friends and join us at Fox Brewing in West Des Moines at 7 pm on Tuesday, Oct. 11, for literacy-themed trivia. Doors open at 6:30 pm. Snacks will be provided, and a cash bar will be open. Our own Jannay Towne and Ken Chester, Jr., will host this fun event. Click here for tickets ($15, also available at the door). All proceeds benefit EWI.
  • The Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute recently selected EWI volunteer/match manager Anna Sunstrom to participate in its prestigious Community Leadership Program. The curriculum focuses on heightening awareness of challenges, enhancing leadership skills, and becoming partners for change.
Staff Scene

Amanda Bjornson, EWI board vice president

If you attended the recent celebration of Everybody Wins! Iowa’s 20th anniversary, you enjoyed the fruits of Amanda Bjornson’s labor, which she says was a fun event to pull off. Amanda, a longtime mentor and six-year member of the EWI board of directors, led the celebration’s committee. “The best part of planning the event was being able to remember back to our tenth anniversary and say, oh my goodness, look at how we’ve been able to progress and especially make it through the COVID years. It really put a bow on that,” she says. “At the event itself, seeing friends, old and new, showed our longevity in terms of the people who have touched and shaped our organization. Original board members and past mentors and executive directors came out to celebrate with us.” Amanda has mentored at several Des Moines schools and currently serves as the EWI vice president.

Director Details

Aaron Weigert, site coordinator

The new school year is bringing new opportunities to Aaron Wiegert. This fall, in addition to being a mentor, he’s taking on the role of site coordinator. “I’ve been emailing my mentors and everybody’s so excited to get started,” he says, adding that what he’s looking forward to most is interacting with the students. “I just love seeing the kids’ perspectives, how they see the world. I love their curiosity and I think that makes them much more productive members of society. It’s really a privilege to meet with them and let them know you’re there for them and everything’s going to be OK. Even when things are going wrong, you can let them know it’s not always going to be this way.” Aaron is coordinating Power Read at Willard Elementary School this year.

Picture This

Fellow bookworms, join us on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 7 pm for literacy-themed trivia at Fox Brewing in West Des Moines. Tickets are $15/person (teams up to six allowed), available here or at the door (doors open at 6:30). Enjoy free snacks and a cash bar while answering questions in five categories.

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

Each year, Everybody Wins! Iowa serves hundreds of central Iowa students in need of a reading mentor. For a monthly donation of $41.67, you can ensure a child will get the help they need to become successful in school and in life. Please click here to sponsor a student today.

Many thanks to our recent August donors:


Prairie Meadows Foundation (Technology Grant)

United Way of Central Iowa (Power Read monthly grant)

$1,000.00 - Fort Dodge Correctional Facility

$200.00 - Jean Livingston

$500.00 - MidAmerican Energy Foundation (20th Anniversary Author Sponsor)

$200.00 - Angela Collins

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. 

We just compiled our annual report, and you can click here if you’d like to take a look. Here’s a taste of what you’ll see in the report: According to a year-end survey, 90% of our students said their enthusiasm for reading increased, 100% reported that they enjoy coming to Power Read, and 92% said they’re reading outside the classroom.

Everybody Wins! Iowa


(515) 277-7590 (ext. 8461) | info@everybodywinsiowa.org

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