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Business Adopts Lead to Read – by Jeff Oddo

In April of 2011 I invited Lynn and Jean Rundle to speak to City Wide Maintenance staff about the Lead to Read program, which was just completing its trial year. The first year trials had shown test score improvements in participating students, and the program was actively recruiting volunteers to participate for the next school year.

City Wide decided as a company to participate in Lead to Read because of its focus on service to our community – City Wide has operated in Kansas City for over 50 years – and its focus on creating future leaders. City Wide’s mission statement focuses on service to others: to our clients, our service providers, and our communities, as a means of encouraging strong business relationships.

Our company provided all the readers for one classroom for the 2011 school year. Our group of readers was drawn from all levels of the organization – administration to sales to executive level. Ten readers made the commitment to read every week.

Coordination and recruitment within our organization was relatively simple: many traveling employees and managers served as substitutes for regular readers. In this way, we were able to make sure the students saw the same pool of faces every week – indeed, many of our substitutes became as well-known as our regular readers.

After seeing strong results in test score improvement and positive feedback within the company, we have extended our participation into a second year, in the same classroom. Many of the readers are working with their second group of students, trading notes on reading styles and stories, and actively recruiting friends and colleagues to participate.

City Wide encourages a culture of entrepreneurship and leadership in all of our business relationships: the idea that an individual, with hard work, perseverance and strong community support, can build an enduring legacy business that gives back. That’s what my father did in 1961 when he founded City Wide.

Lead to Read helps students find the skills they need to become tomorrow’s business leaders. By exposing students to invaluable life-skills by example, and by showing students they are worthy of the volunteer’s time, the Lead to Read program builds confidence and social ability, and City Wide Maintenance is proud to give it our continuing support.