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Reading Is Fundamental Launches New Ambassador Program

Volunteers in 50 states to expand reach of nation's oldest and largest children and families' literacy nonprofit organization

WASHINGTON, January 12, 2009—Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) announces a new nationwide initiative aimed at engaging neighboring RIF programs and volunteers.

The RIF Ambassadors initiative, sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company, bestows a working honor on a RIF volunteer coordinator in each state, recognizing the valuable role of committed local volunteers in advancing RIF's mission of a literate America in which all children have access to books and discover the joy and value of reading. The initiative will also provide a structure of support for selected ambassadors to promote children's literacy and RIF in their communities.

The RIF Ambassadors are:

Cathy Dean Gafford of Jean Dean RIF/Kiwanis in Opelika, Ala.
Donna Morrow of Arctic Light Elementary School in Fairbanks, Alaska
Patricia Heck of Red Mountain High School in Gilbert, Ariz.
Monica O'Briant of Pine Bluff School District #3 in Pine Bluff, Ark.
Mary Lopez of Riverbank USD in Riverbank, Calif.
Natasha Jamerson of Harrison School District #2-Title I in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Carla Conway of Norwalk Housing Authority in Norwalk, Conn.
Stacey Henry of Brandywine Valley Friends in Wilmington, Del.
Elaine Sites of RIF of Pensacola in Pensacola, Fla.
Julie Hollis of Communities in Schools of Georgia-PIRC in Atlanta, Ga.
Susan Fuller of RIF of Honolulu, Inc. in Honolulu, Hawaii
Chris Ashby of Clearwater Memorial Public Library in Orofino, Idaho
Candy Kramer of Cicero Public Schools in Cicero, Ill.
Denise Duncun of Brooklyn Elementary PTO in Brooklyn, Ind.
Sara Whitlow of Sieda Head Start in Ottumwa, Iowa
Darla Thornburg of C.E. Twister Boosters in Coffeyville, Kan.
Raymond Fehr of Jefferson County Public Schools in Louisville, Ky.
Lueburda Jamison Myers of AKA Sorority Delta Lambda Omega in Shreveport, La.
Kellie Brann of Albert S. Hall School in Waterville, Maine
Stephanie Tabor of Tyler Heights Elementary in Annapolis, Md.
Kathleen Sullivan of Boston Public Schools in Boston, Mass.
Keith Baldwin of Kiwanis Club of Copper Country in Hancock, Mich.
Barbara Kyle of Minneapolis Public School Teen Parent Program in Minneapolis, Minn.
Melissa Rouse of Mississippi Department of Education in Vicksburg, Miss.
Peggy Stepp of RIF of Springfield, Inc. in Springfield, Mo.
Elizabeth Williams of Jefferson School Missoula County Public School in Missoula, Mont.
Linda Placzek of Conestoga Magnet School in Omaha, Neb.
Brittany Prager of Clark County Reads in Las Vegas, Nev.
Jane Hartnett of Effingham Elementary School in Effingham, N.H.
William Madsen of Newark RIF Book Program in Newark, N.J.
Carin Dhaouadi of New Futures School in Albuquerque, N.M.
Vicki Rashbaum of New Rochelle Pre-K/Head Start in New Rochelle, N.Y.
Christine Vande Velde of Haw River Elementary in Haw River, N.C.
Julie Jahner of Community Action Head Start in Dickinson, N.D.
Joan Reed of GRADS/Collins Career Center in Chesapeake, Ohio
Gloria Lang of Swinney Elementary School in Lawton, Okla.
Sue Hunt of Salem Keizer School District in Salem, Ore.
Lisa Mertz of Chief Shikellamy Elementary in Northumberland, Penn.
Mary Anne Roll, Cumberland School Volunteers, Cumberland, R.I.
Ida Thompson of Richland County School District #1 in Columbia, S.C.
Kim Villa of Rockyford School in Porcupine, S.D.
Cindee Schreiber Gold of RIF of Nashville in Nashville, Tenn.
Gay Patrick of Dallas ISD in Dallas, Texas
Jeana Stuart of Centro de la Familia de Utah in South Salt Lake, Utah
Deb Grennon of Franklin Grand Isle Bookmobile in Swanton, Vt.
Heidi Condrey of Parent Child Development Corporation in West Point, Va.
Jacki Crowther of Page Ahead Children's Literacy Program in Seattle, Wash.
Judy Bee of Doddridge County CEOs Council in Salem, W. Va.
Lisa Quistorf of Koenig Elementary in Two Rivers, Wis.
Ann Koenig of West Elementary in Wheatland, Wyo.

Each RIF Ambassador will support RIF by conducting three of the following activities throughout 2009: blogging, children's letter writing or collage campaigns, congressional member site visits or meetings, organizing a local gathering, reaching out to new groups, taking photos, publicizing their local RIF program, or engaging children in summer reading.

"RIF is able to help over 4.6 million children in the U.S. discover the joy of reading, thanks to engaged and committed volunteers," said Carol H. Rasco, RIF president and CEO. "The RIF Ambassadors program will allow us to further connect will all coordinators in all states."

The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 450 sparkling and still brands. Along with Coca-Cola, recognized as the world's most valuable brand, the Company's portfolio includes 12 other billion dollar brands, including Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola Zero, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid and Georgia Coffee. Globally, we are the No. 1 provider of sparkling beverages, juices and juice drinks and ready-to-drink teas and coffees. Through the world's largest beverage distribution system, consumers in more than 200 countries enjoy the Company's beverages at a rate of 1.5 billion servings a day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our Company is focused on initiatives that protect the environment, conserve resources and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. For more information about our Company, please visit our website at www.thecoca-colacompany.com.

Reading is Fundamental: Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF), founded in 1966, motivates children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life. RIF's highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and U.S. territory, RIF provides 4.6 million children with 15 million new, free books and literacy resources each year. For more information and to access reading resources, visit RIF's website at www.rif.org.

Discover the Joy!


Press Contact:

Layla Wright-Contreras,
Media Relations Manager



Reading Is Fundamental Launches New Ambassador Program