Simplified: REACH Literacy, a nonprofit focused on improving literacy for both adults and children, has a new leader, new classroom space, a fundraiser event this month and some big plans for 2024.

Why it matters

  • Molly O'Connor started in January as the nonprofit's new executive director. She previously worked as a graphic designer at Lemonly and has a background in English.
  • Meanwhile, REACH recently expanded its location at the Western Mall to include an additional 3,000 square feet of classroom, bookstore and office space.
  • O'Connor said she's coming into her new position with a strong focus on accessibility, and it'll start with more research into the literacy needs to figure out how to better reach more people and particularly to provide more industry-specific tutoring.
"When English is your first language, and you learn to read as a child, literacy is like breathing," O'Connor said. "You don't think about it. (Without literacy, you're unable) to be able to make health care decisions for your family, to vote, to get a drivers license, to navigate the day-to-day-world."

Tell me more about what Reach does

There are a couple different facets of the nonprofit.

  • The bookstore sells donated books, and all proceeds fund the other literacy programming. Anyone is welcome to
  • Literacy education programs include:
    • A workplace program to meet learners, who typically are learning English as a second or third language, where they are. Right now, REACH is partnering with Sanford and Avera to bring English classes to their employees.
    • Everyday English classes allow adults to come and take classes. This year, those classes will take place in the nonprofit's new classroom space.
    • Bee a Reader is Reach's program for students. They pair volunteer mentors with second graders, and the volunteers go in and read with the kids for 40 minutes a week.

The English classes have already reached more than 100 people in 2024, Program Director Brooke Sieff said.

"There's potential to double that even before this learning session is over," she added.

Tell me more about the upcoming Brewhaha fundraiser

Brewhaha is the largest annual fundraiser for Reach Literacy, and it combines a craft beer tasting with a silent auction and a presentation from six different speakers.

  • Tickets are likely to sell out, but you can still find them here.
  • The event takes place starting at 5:30 p.m. March 21 at the Museum of Visual Materials.

What's next for Reach?

The nonprofit is conducting a study later this year to look at exactly what the literacy needs are in town.