A year ago today, I did the hardest thing I’ve had to do as Executive Director of Everybody Wins DC: I closed down our shared reading programs and cancelled our annual gala, which had been scheduled for the very next evening. While I was disappointed that we couldn’t celebrate EWDC’s 25th anniversary together, I was heartbroken about what it might mean for our students.  
As the mother of two elementary school kids, I know how hard it can be when a child’s support network is disrupted. So when schools closed due to COVID-19, EWDC immediately went to work on behalf of our students. Because for many of them, an EWDC mentor is more than simply a person to read with once a week. Our mentors are friends, confidants, cheerleaders, and role models. And our programs are more than just something to do. They provide a literacy lifeline for families who might not otherwise have access to reading materials and supports. 
Within a few weeks, we not only had a new Pen Pal program up and running, but we were creating on-demand shared reading content for families to enjoy from the safety of their homes. Next, we moved our mentoring sessions to an online platform, created new virtual read-aloud experiences, and launched exciting ways for volunteers to stay engaged from home. Finally, we completely transformed our book distribution effort The Book Project – from something that supported our other programming to a standalone effort that now delivers books and shared reading resources directly to some of the neediest communities.  
I am very proud of the work we have done this year to keep our students connected and supported through reading. Here is a preview of our Mid-Year Impact Update.
But I am even prouder of what is behind these numbers. When asked, our students said that EWDC programs made them feel calm, happy, excited, and powerful. In a year when students have been through so much – from Black Lives Matter protests to a global pandemic to recent civil unrest – their words are the truest measure of our impact. This success is because of you, and I can’t thank you enough. 
As I said above, March 10th was the hardest day. But March 11th represented something amazing – a chance to find new and exciting ways to better serve our students. My commitment to you is that this is just the beginning.  
Here’s to an amazing rest of school year 2020-21 and all the incredible stories in our future. 
Jordi Hutchinson 
EWDC Executive Director 
P.S. Remember to mark your calendars for our first ever Digital Celebration Week! 5 days of multimedia fun highlighting our amazing kids, our new programs, and the impact you have had on thousands of lives across the region.