Happy New Year and greetings on this side of 2022!

The Board of Mindful Literacy Columbus wants to extend our warmest wishes for the new year.

For those of you who are new: Mindful Literacy Columbus (501C3) is a sister non-profit to Mindful Literacy Practice (LLC).

Our Mission is to provide 1:1 and small group literacy tutoring to children with dyslexia or who are at risk-for reading failur

Thank you all for your continued support as we find our feet as a still very young 501C3.

Please take a moment to grab a cup of coffee and get caught up by reading this (very full) quarterly update.

Current Scholars

This academic year, from funds generously donated, we have been able to offer continued support to 2 families for literacy tutoring.

Long term relationship, consistency, and frequency are all vital to student growth. We are happy to have been able to support our 4 scholars for the second academic year in a row.

The Speer Mechanical Scholarship is a full year scholarship which has provided nearly 150 sessions for our high school scholars. The impact Speer’s donations have made is significant: After one academic year of working with his tutor Kelly Young, who uses a Linguistic based approach to teach the structure of our written language, our senior in high school scholar was retested by his nueropsychologist and it was determined that he had grown 2 years academically in reading. I am unaware of any research literature that demonstrates this kind of progress with older adolescents.

Someday soon, we hope to set up a single-subject research design study to replicate this success and train others how to teach with similar methodology.

The Tyana Hamilton Scholarship has continued to offer a partial scholarship to our now middle school scholars who continue to see Orton-Gillingham certified tutor Brooke Denby. Brooke reports that the Take Flight curriculum continues to refine her students’ understanding of the five pillars of reading instruction: Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension. Perhaps most importantly, her students’ confidence is soaring (pun intended) and they have adapted to life as Middle Schoolers. If you are interested in seeing Brooke in action, as she administers a Take Flight lesson with a 3rd grader, check out this video

Over the summer, we co-hosted a soccer and writing summer camp with The Final Third Foundation at Urban Resurrection. Over 25 scholars were served. A few months after camp, campers received their own copies of the books they published! They can be viewed and purchased here.

I personally have a surplus of BHIVE Press books (94 to be exact) and Mindful Literacy Columbus will be donating them to 2nd & 7 to pass out to second graders as part of their mission to “Tackle Illiteracy.” It has been a joy to see how this publishing process has given back in many many ways to many scholars of all ages.

BHIVE Press is gearing up to publish our first two full length chapter books. Both 7th and 9th grade authors are huge fans of fantasy and this genre definitely can be felt in their mini-novels! We will keep you posted as soon as these works of heart publish.

Fundraising Efforts

This past fiscal year has been one of tremendous opportunity for our organization to demonstrate growth-mind set.

There have been many fundraising ideas we acted on that did not come to fruition and finding the wherewithal to stand up and keep going has taken the belief and support of this community. From summer camp with lower than anticipated numbers to a conference that was planned but not executed, we are really not financially where we projected to be–which would have been supporting a handful of more students.

Nevertheless, there are five positive outcomes from 2021 that we are very proud to share with you.

  1. The Columbus Foundation’s Giving Store. We are in it! It was a long term goal of MLC to be part of The Columbus Foundation and it took the heavy lifting of former Director of Impact Dr. Allison Riggle to get us there. Please take a look and share this link with your family, friends, and co-workers.

2.Benevity We are in it! Many times on this journey, I have found that perhaps the most valuable asset to our organization is our social capital. My cousin in-law, Richard Smith, who works for Apple, nudged me to sign up for this platform where corporations do 100% matches to employee donations. Little did I know at the time, but Benevity serves over 700 corporations and has been a sizable source of income, with just two people who made 3 donations (thanks to my cousin Rich and my sister-in-law Alison Bennett, former Pfizer employee!). Thank you Rich and Alison!

Will you please do us a HUGE service?Will you please forward this to your close contacts to see if their employer has Benevity and if they do, if they’d be willing to donate through that platform and get the 100% match for us? Or perhaps your own employer has Benevity? If so, will you reach out to colleagues to see if they would consider finding Mindful Literacy Columbus on the Benevity platform the next time they go to donate? Thanks for taking a second to ask these questions of those in your network- it could make a huge impact on the kids in our community.

3. Bar Mitzvah Service Project. It is hard to tell you about this service project without a long winded story. First, if you are unfamiliar with Judaism, a Bar Mitzvah (for males) or a Bat Mitzvah (for females) is a coming of age ceremony for 12 or 13 year old that marks the time when a child becomes a Jewish adult. At this point, the young adult is responsible for deciding how they practice their faith.

This particular story starts with a tale of two boys: cousins, actually. Identified as having dyslexia at a young age, Alex and Avner feel passionate about paying it forward. First, Alex, and I first met when he was 7 years old in second grade at Cassingham Elementary School in Bexley. At this point, Alex’s team was robust and included the late advocate Brenda Louisin. In supporting Alex’s literacy development, Brenda and I would have long meaningful conversations that eventually led me to begin the Orton-Gillingham certification process. And guess who was my practicum student?

That’s right, Alex! Alex was the star of my 100 hour practicum videos, and he probably ended up teaching me, more than I taught him (although Alex politely disagrees). The way Alex tells the next part of the story is that when I planned an extended maternity leave when pregnant with our third daughter, Alex’s team decided it was best for him to go to Marburn, a specialized school for kids with Dyslexia and ADHD in New Albany, Ohio.

Fast forward a few years and I had taught not only Alex’s older sister, but also all three of Alex’s cousin’s at Cassingham, including his age-mate, Avner, who had returned to Bexley City Schools from Marburn for his 5th grade year.

Now both of the boys are in 7th grade together at Bexley Middle School and this fall approached me with the idea for their B’Nai Mitzvah Project. They wanted to collect gently used books, sell them at the local Farmer’s Market and donate the proceeds to Mindful Literacy Columbus. In addition, they asked the guests of their joint Bar Mitzvah to consider donating to our organization.

Here are a few pictures from the event and the captain that I included on the @mindful.literacy.practice Instagram Account:

“When the second grade boy sat across from me session after session, sometimes videoed for my OG fellow to critique: Never ever did I imagine that he and his cousin would be paying it forward to a nonprofit that I started 5 years later.

At the book sale he said, ‘If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t know how to read.’

I looked at him like (insert shocked face emoji).

‘It’s true.” he said.

These boys raised over $500 for their Bar Mitzvah project and still counting… [I] couldn’t be more proud of these young men, as they practice living a life of service. Little do they know how much they have lifted me up, too.”

4. Rowing Clinic at CrossFit Bexley – Building on our commitment to physical fitness, Board Member Ahmed Halim and I worked together to host a rowing clinic at our gym, Crossfit Bexley. If you didn’t know this fun fact: I was a Varsity rower at Ohio State in 2002 and 2003. Board Member Ahmed, a Varsity track and field athlete at Ohio Wesleyan University, encouraged me to offer a clinic, 2k training program, and 2k event to gym members. With the exceptional organizational help of volunteer Mona Anderson, and partnering with local business owners Kate Borges of BOFA and Esther Weisman of MinDins, the event brought in over $1,000 for scholarships.

It was really fun to work with all the athletes in our gym on a common goal- especially the teenage athletes who showed up and rowed hard!

Special thanks to gym owners Patrick Woods and Brian Peterson for their open arms and hearts in allowing us to host the event. Patrick is expecting that event will grow even bigger next year!

Shameless plug for Kate Borges, who is a licensed therapeutic massage therapist. She gave the athletes mini massages, which included cupping before and after the event. She is a true healer! Call or text Kate to heal what body aches ail you! 614-325-3851

5. Hacking the Code: The Ziggety Zaggity Road of a D-Kid. I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I’ll spare you the hate part- I’m sure you can guess. The love part is: I have met some pretty incredible people on the Instagram platform. This summer, Zoe Kandel and I interviewed Dutch-American author Gea Meijerling as her book “Hacking the Code” was released. You can listen to the episode here. 

Zoe and I were completely captivated by both the book and our conversation with Gea. Gea promptly bought a copy of Zoe’s book (see bookstore link above). As I thoroughly enjoyed Gea’s book as a reader, I also couldn’t help reading it with my teaching hat on.

This book is a must-read for all kids with Dyslexia and would make a great class gift for a teacher to do a read-aloud with the class.

Ideas for lessons plans came flooding to me and I approached Gea with the idea that perhaps we could write a lesson plan for her book for teachers. Gea kept nudging me forward on this idea and the final product is breathtaking.

Gea is pushing it out to her fanbase and in exchange asking consumers of the free lesson plan to consider making a donation to MLC.

She even got me thinking of other products I could put on a we known and used platform in the education community called “teachers pay teachers.” All proceeds, will go to MLC, of course! Stay tuned for that. In the meantime:

If you want a free copy of the lesson plan for yourself or to share with your children’s teachers visit Gea’s website here: http://icarepress.com/

What’s Next?

What will 2022 hold for Mindful Literacy Columbus? Let’s see!

This year to fulfill our Mission we plan to focus our efforts on:

  • figuring out a self-sustainable business model;
  • applying for grants to support our first research and training project;
  • giving scholarships directly to students;
  • and we are open to the possibility of receiving funding from an Angel Donor(insert angel emoji here!) in order to accomplish the former three goals!

I will continue to drip podcast episodes to help inform and educate the community of parents, teachers, and students.

A research center and clinic are still in our dreams (our vision!), but in the meantime, we will continue to find a way to improve one life at a time, one word at a time.

Thanks for being a trusted partner on this journey. The children in our community need you and we are so glad to have you here.

Until Spring with Love,

Dr. Bennett

Director, Mindful Literacy Columbus