Local Entrepreneur Launches Free Summer Reading Program for…

My goal is to get as many kids reading and loving books as possible. If they can learn more, they can have new opportunities to grow and develop their potential. Every child deserves that.

Kids in the Garfield Ridge neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest Side will have a lot more opportunities to continue learning over the summer, thanks to local entrepreneur and philanthropist Vivian Valtas.

Since launching her inaugural Summer Learning Program June 28, Valtas has collected over 1,500 books that will be available to neighborhood children, and continues to seek contributions to grow the supply. Kids can join the program and select books at Vivian Valtas’ State Farm office, 6108 S. Archer Ave.

Vivian Valtas designed her program to tackle what is often referred to as the "summer learning loss." There’s a need for programs to help bridge the gap between school years, she says, especially with so much activity competing for free time attention, including the lure of electronic devices.

“Literacy is essential to learning and problem-solving,” Valtas said. “Students don’t always study enough reading during the school year, and research has shown that students who add even 15 minutes a day of independent, out-of-school reading, can be exposed to more than a million words of text in a year. I’m passionate about anything that supports expanding a child’s exposure to, and love for, books and reading.”

Here’s how the Summer Reading Program works: Children can stop by her office (http://www.vivianvaltas.com) to pick up a reading tracker and select their first two books. As they read, log and return the books, they can select two other books to read. After reading 10 books, children receive coupons for free milkshakes. After reading11-20 books, the children receive the milkshake coupon and a small prize, and, if they read 21-30 books, they are rewarded with a milkshake, a small prize and $5.

As the daughter of Greek immigrants who emphasized work ethic and life learning more than school-based curriculums, Valtas (http://www.vivianvaltas.com) knows what a difference education and learning can make to a person raised where money and resources are scarce.

According to the Handbook of Early Literacy Research, in middle-income neighborhoods the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1, in low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is one age-appropriate book for every 300 children. Other research suggests that even a single, brief exposure to good reading material can result in a clear increase in enthusiasm for reading.

"My goal is to get as many kids reading and loving books as possible. If they can learn more, they can have new opportunities to grow and develop their potential. Every child deserves that," she said. “I’m grateful to community members who have graciously donated, or wish to donate, books to support this program.”

For those interested in the Summer Reading Programs, Valtas' State Farm Agency office at 6108 South Archer Ave., is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays 9 a.m. to
1 p.m. For more information, call 773-582-3322 and/or visit http://www.vivianvaltas.com.

About Vivian Valtas

Vivian Valtas is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and author (https://amzn.to/2mlGYpy) who has a deep passion for her family and helping others. She has successfully applied her leadership and management experience to train, motivate and mentor other professionals. Vivian Valtas is on the Board of Directors for the Valentine Boys and Girls of Chicago. She also started the “Old Bikeman Award” which gifts new bicycles to children in need each year. After graduating from Youngstown State University with a degree in Mathematics Education, Vivian Valtas earned her MBA from the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University. She holds a teaching certificate, is a Certified Peer Mediator and holds the CLF (Chartered Leadership Fellowship) designation from The American College.

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