Everybody Wins! was started by retired New York City textile industry executive Arthur Tannenbaum in 1995. After reading “The Read-Aloud Handbook” by Jim Trelease, Tannenbaum decided he wanted to do his part to make sure children received positive exposure to reading. The book points out how vital it is for youngsters to be read to by adults.
Tannenbaum and some of his colleagues decided to volunteer at a school near their office. Once he retired, his idea for Everybody Wins! took off. Together Arthur Tannenbaum and his wife, Phyllis founded Everybody Wins! in New York City, and the program began matching up professionals with at-risk, inner-city school children as reading partners. The program sends volunteers from the corporate world into schools close to their offices. They spend a class period reading with student partners and return to the office by the end of the lunch hour. During each power lunch session, the reading partners select a book and read aloud together, an activity that the Commission on Reading calls the single most important activity for building a child’s eventual success in reading.
The kids in the program not only benefit from the extra reading time, but also from having other adults to talk to, said Emily Clark of PS 67 in New York City, NY, who coordinates the power lunch program. “A lot of kids open up to the volunteers, communicating with someone who is not their parent,” Clark said. “It’s like they have pen pals who come in once a week.”
Today thousands of children are being mentored. For several years, the Tannenbaums received requests from individuals nationwide who wanted to replicate this successful program in other parts of the country. They responded and programs were developed in cities including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta and Topeka, among others. As a result of a one million dollar congressional appropriation, Everybody Wins! will be come a truly national program with chapters throughout the U.S. A National Expansion Committee, composed of representatives from the New York and Washington, D.C. Boards of Directors has been formed to move replication of Power Lunch and other EW! initiatives forward.
Senator James Jeffords remarked, “It takes very little to see the problems we have in education in our country. It takes someone special to have the vision and creativity to address those problems in a new way. And it takes someone even more special to turn that vision into a viable program that can be replicated to serve children all across the nation. Arthur Tannenbaum, Founder of Everybody Wins! and Phyllis Tannenbaum, Co-founder, are very special people indeed. I want to thank them for their vision, their tenacity, and their life-long work to improve education for all children.”
Pamela Watts, Assistant Principal of PS 15 Manhattan commented, “Everybody Wins! has provided readers to the students, which in turn has helped to increase our reading scores, which in turn helped to improve our students’ self-esteem. This has made our school a happier place to go to learn.” The Tannenbaums’ ultimate goal is to have every child in the country read to either by a parent or relative or a volunteer.