Rockin' Readers

A Peacemaking Project by Vanessa Q.

What is the injustice we are solving?

During some conversations with the County of Los Angeles public library system, I learned that the Homework Center staff at various libraries were often asked by parents to read with their children. Unfortunately, reading to the children was not in the staff parameters, and therefore they had to turn down these requests. My idea helped fill a need within the County of Los Angeles by organizing and putting into action an after-school reading program for students who utilize the Homework Center, aided by a group of dedicated volunteers. Together, the County of Los Angeles Regional Youth Coordinator, library staff, and I developed a six-week pilot program that began in the Fall of 2016 at the Lawndale Library which serves a large community challenged by illiteracy. The program, dubbed Rockin' Readers, focused on improving literacy and reading comprehension skills by offering one-on-one time for students to read to a volunteer. Designed to be a mentoring program, Rockin' Readers provides students with volunteers who encourage and support them in developing necessary reading and comprehension skills. As a result the program has successfully helped students improve their literacy skills and encouraged them to enjoy reading, which achieved my overall goal of sharing my passion for reading with others. Approximately thirty students attended the pilot program each week, and each student received individual one-on-one reading time with a volunteer. It was so rewarding to see the students arrive, excitedly ask to sign-in, and then eagerly choose a book, ready to read. The pilot program was so successful that the Lawndale Library has adopted the program and now offers Rockin' Readers as a regular library activity, and has recently committed to a summer session as well. This project allowed me to advocate for others and address an issue I am passionate about. Along my journey, I learned more about myself, testing my limits, honing in on my abilities, and gaining practical life skills. By establishing this program to encourage students to read, I hope to pave the way for more programs that will impact society and continue to influence even more children. Furthermore, this experience inspired me to imagine the influence Rockin' Readers would have on a global level. One of my future goals is to address the issue of illiteracy in Africa and, through the skills and experience I have learned by integrating this program into the County of Los Angeles, I have gained the skills necessary to take this dream and make it a reality.


Adrian B.
5 April 2018 13:45

Hi Vanessa,

We wanted to let you know that we are extending the deadline for active projects to apply for a Mini-Grant during this Peace First Challenge to April 15th. You can apply for a mini-grant anytime, but meeting the Challenge deadlines will make you eligible for additional opportunities.

If you do not require a mini-grant to complete your project, you can remain eligible for the Accelerator by completing your project and Reflection before the May 31st deadline! If you submit your project plan by April 15th, we'll be sure to provide you with feedback by April 21st to support you with carrying out the plan.

If you are still in early stages of planning, you are also welcome to apply for a mini-grant at a later date -- although you may not be eligible for an Accelerator, the opportunity for funding and support is always there.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and if we can help in any way!


Adrian B.
29 March 2018 20:10

Hi Vanessa,

Just checking in about your project and the next steps. I wanted to make sure you are aware of the upcoming Mini-Grant Deadline - there is still time to remain eligible to attend a Peace First Challenge Accelerator if you complete your Compassionate Insight, Project Plan, and Mini-Grant application by March 31st.

We're excited about your work, and would love to be able to support it with a mini-grant of up to $250.

These tools can help you craft your insight, plan, and budget for your mini-grant:

Through your dashboard you can submit your "compassionate insight," record your plan in "Make a plan" and then "Apply for a mini-grant" for the materials you need.

Let me know how I can help!


Adrian B.
23 February 2018 18:18

That could be awesome! :)  

robert g.
20 February 2018 14:08

Hope same project can be tested in Liberia.  

Fish S. Peace First Staff
16 October 2017 9:55

Hi Vanessa, it's really awesome that your program has been such a success that you're going to replicate it elsewhere! What challenges are you experiencing in figuring out how to do that? We've helped a lot of young people grow their organizations sustainably, and would be happy to help you think these questions through :)

Below I've connected you with David, who runs a literacy and education initiative in Burundi. He might be able to give you some more insight on how your work could play out internationally. You can ask him questions on this page or on his wall!  

David K.
15 October 2017 6:16

Hi vanessa, I am David from Burundi East AFRICA  

Vanessa Q.
14 October 2017 23:02

Hi! Thank you! My progress and success has been tracked by the County of LA library and the popularity it had with the library patrons. Parents and children keep returning each week to participate in Rockin' Readers, and the County of Los Angeles Regional Youth Services Coordinator is hoping to highlight this program for their Staff Development Day next year. Currently, I am working with another branch of the County of LA libraries to start Rockin' Readers at their location, hopefully by next Fall (2018). I also have been looking into international opportunities, but have not found anything promising, and due to the unrest in Africa, I have been advised to wait or choose a different international starting point, so so far this has come to a dead end.  

Fish S. Peace First Staff
3 October 2017 10:22

Vanessa, this project sounds awesome! It reminds me of the work of one of our Peace First Fellows, Ryan Traynor, who started a literacy program in Northern California. Sounds like you found an important need and worked to fill it!

I'm wondering how you have been tracking your progress -- what has helped you know your project has been successful? And -- what comes next?

Please don't hesitate to let us know how we can be helpful! We'd love to support your important work.