Purpose Prize Fellow 2011
In 1997 Mimi Lieber, founder of Lieber Attitude Research Inc., a consumer and public opinion research organization serving numerous Fortune 500 companies, tapped into her long-standing interest to promote childhood literacy in disadvantaged New York City neighborhoods.
Armed with 40 years’ experience as consumer attitude consultant and 15 years as one of the New York State Board Regents, she created Literacy Inc., which brings innovative literacy programs to children 8 and younger. She hired, trained and supervised field coordinators from the communities with which they worked to organize literacy networks.
Today Literacy Inc. partners with community members to take part in weekly and monthly reading partner programs at a variety of neighborhood sites. Lieber sees opportunities everywhere, from a family literacy night at the local library to a reading corner at the local shoe store.
The organization's programs engage parents to start and support reading development in their homes and communities; pair young readers with older children, community members and senior citizens; and encourage communities to collaborate with cultural organizations to improve children’s literacy development.
By leveraging a community’s own resources, Lieber developed a low-cost “Reading Everywhere” model that can be replicated in other urban communities. Literacy Inc. partners with New York’s five boroughs, 46 public schools, seven libraries and 38 community-based organizations, reaching more than 6,000 children.
“It does take the whole village to raise a child, and urban villages have lots of available readers and helpers if they are recruited properly, trained and recognized for their efforts,” Lieber says.