The Kaplan Family Foundation Ignites a Love for Reading in Children at Head Start

A passion for increasing children’s literacy in Northern Virginia

When Teresa and Joel Kaplan retired, they knew they wanted to continue giving back to their community and impacting the lives of their neighbors, particularly children.

“Because we both love children, and it’s crucial that they have a good beginning, we decided to work for a disadvantaged children’s cause,” shares Teresa.

For the next two and a half years, Teresa and Joel worked side by side placing books in the hands of children who did not have access to literary resources. After working tirelessly for years, The Kaplan Family Foundation for Children’s Literacy was born.

“Our Foundation is meant to act as an umbrella to our various current and future literacy projects,” Teresa explains. “For example, C.L.A.P. (Children’s Literacy Adds Potential) is part of the foundation dedicated to helping children through free book programs and events.”

As The Kaplan Family Foundation grew, so did the duo’s outreach, and soon the foundation was bringing the gift of reading to underserved children at several local organizations.

“Our passion is helping disadvantaged children to live more successful lives through the positive impact of early literacy,” Teresa notes. “Our search for the organization that offered the best opportunity to connect with these children led us to NVFS.”

With a combined goal of increasing the literacy rate in children, both Teresa and Joel decided to pursue an opportunity to give back with Northern Virginia Family Service’s (NVFS) littlest clients at Head Start and soon began taking them on adventures through the power of storytelling.

“[Joel and I] were especially impressed with the Head Start program and the fact that 92 percent of Head Start students present a readiness for kindergarten,” Teresa shares. “Studies prove that we must reach children at an early age to engage their interest in books and reading and Head Start accomplishes this task very well.”

In addition to reading to the children at Head Start, The Kaplan Family Foundation provides each student with a brand new book to take home and practice reading with his or her family. For some, it was the very first book, he or she has  ever owned.

“We can only hope that the children who participated in the ‘Reading Celebration’ at Head Start enjoyed being read aloud to, felt proud to own their book, and started to develop a love for books and reading,” Teresa concludes.

The Kaplan Family Foundation for Children’s Literacy is anxious to return to NVFS to share their love of reading with the children at all of our Early Head Start centers and the children staying at our shelters. In the meantime, we’re thankful for their contribution to both NVFS and the Northern Virginia community.

Thank you, Teresa, Joel and the entire The Kaplan Family Foundation!