Ethan Martin and his wife started Reading for Change just a few years ago. Sitting in a coffee shop, his wife was lamenting over her previous teaching position in title 1 school, where she felt like she had made a real difference in the lives of low-income kids. The conversation rolled into an inspiration, and Reading for Change sprung to life. Moments later they would be driving around looking for the right location to start an after-school program for kids that would become a safe place where students are provided free literacy tutoring, homework help, a nutritious meal, love, and encouragement.
“The challenge has never been fundraising”, Ethan told me, “No, the challenge was that the Christian faith is important to us, and that disqualified us from being part of the school’s agenda, and we didn’t want to exclude any future possibilities from our organization.” So they started with a small group with just 5 students and 3 volunteers… and had to grow organically.
This turned out to be a blessing, allowing them to refine their program and get the kinks out: they added about a student a week and by the end of the year had outgrown their space with 25 students!
When I asked about fundraising… Ethan was so grateful at how much support they’ve received. He said he’s found people eager and willing to donate. But, he elaborated, that people didn’t want to just donate cash. They wanted to be involved. And so he would always know what specific items they were needed what items were needed: when he would let a donor know that they needed $175 for six chairs that 6 new students would use, and then they were much more connected to the movement knowing exactly how they were contributing to the program.
Overall, Ethan told me, hey, when you have an idea, just go for it. Don’t hold yourself back. You’ll find the support you need – and let it grow into something bigger than yourself. People are hungry for change.