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Legacy of Literacy Award

Reading Is Fundamental is honored to present Sallie Mae with the 2014 Legacy of Literacy Award.

The leading financial services company specializing in education, Sallie Mae has been helping students and their families save, plan, and pay for college for more than 40 years. In 1992, the company created The Sallie Mae Fund to increase access to higher education for America’s students by supporting programs and initiatives that help open doors to a brighter future, including Reading Is Fundamental.

RIF is very proud of our long-standing relationship with Sallie Mae, which dates back to the 1980s. From the very beginning, Sallie Mae employees have volunteered with RIF programs in their local communities—helping with book distributions and working with kids to get them excited about books and reading.

Sallie Mae has also been a strong financial supporter of RIF’s mission. Through an initiative lasting more than a decade, Sallie Mae provided assistance for a public service campaign and helped establish new RIF programs in a number of states throughout the country. Since 2003, Sallie Mae has generously provided major operational support for RIF, enabling us to concentrate on our mission to get books into the hands of kids and families who most need them.

Sallie Mae President and CEO John (Jack) F. Remondi has been on the RIF Board since 2001 and currently serves as the Board Chairman. We are truly proud to present the 2014 Legacy of Literacy Award to our very good friends at Sallie Mae.


2014 Anne Richardson RIF Volunteer of the Year Award

Since 1998, the Anne Richardson RIF Volunteer of the Year Award has been presented annually to RIF volunteers whose dedication to improving children’s literacy through service to their local RIF programs is truly outstanding and inspiring. By offering this national recognition, RIF seeks to engage children’s literacy volunteers and advocates in celebrating the spirit and practice of volunteerism and honoring the accomplishments of those who encourage and nurture young readers. This prestigious award is named for RIF’s chair emerita, the late Anne Hazard Richardson.

Meet the Honorees

Mary Ellen Cravotta of Fort Bragg, NC
Elementary Librarian at Irwin Intermediate School

Mary Ellen knows how to make RIF events magical and memorable by involving the entire community at one the largest military bases in the U.S.— students, teachers, parents, soldiers, and commanders feel the joy!

“RIF helps kids realize books are great, that they make all the difference in their world,” says Mary Ellen. “My mission is to build a culture of reading with children and parents. In order to do that, I need lots of exciting reading activities. RIF has just been perfect for that.”Mary Ellen Cravotta of Fort Bragg, NC
Elementary Librarian at Irwin Intermediate School

Mary Ellen knows how to make RIF events magical and memorable by involving the entire community at one the largest military bases in the U.S.— students, teachers, parents, soldiers, and commanders feel the joy!

“RIF helps kids realize books are great, that they make all the difference in their world,” says Mary Ellen. “My mission is to build a culture of reading with children and parents. In order to do that, I need lots of exciting reading activities. RIF has just been perfect for that.”

Ramon Gonzalez of New York, NY

Assistant Director, St. Aloysius Education Clinic
Ramon has loved RIF since he was seven. That’s when he appeared in one of the first RIF public service announcements and helped collect 1,000 pounds of aluminum to raise money to buy books.

Now, nearly four decades later, his passion to nurture young readers has led to his current role helping to serve 2000 children in seven different schools and a summer program.

“We are improving the greater Harlem community,” says Ramon. “Those who couldn’t read can now read. Kids we give books to tell us they want to stay in school and succeed. It definitely is a win.”


JoEllen Leech of Pittsburgh, PA
Volunteer Recruitment Coordinator

When JoEllen Leech joined RIF Pittsburgh in 2010, the organization had just adopted two programs after the close of another local children’s literacy group. It was JoEllen’s hard work, inspiration, and leadership that brought new life to those initiatives.

“We get hugs and happiness . . . the light in their eyes when they see us come. It’s a life-changing experience,” says JoEllen Having an opportunity to help children become readers really speaks to me.”


Gala Honorees