Holiday Spirit

Partner organizations supported by Literacy Partners serve literacy needs of community members of all ages, from preschoolers to seniors, along with volunteer opportunities. Courtesy All Five and Ravenswood Classroom Partners.

Posted Dec. 20, 2022

Literacy Partners strives to support local literacy initiatives in Menlo Park and beyond

by Mike Goodkind / Contributor

Literacy Partners – Menlo Park (LPMP) completed the first full year of its expanded mission in July 2022, providing some $85,000 to local partner organizations to address a range of issues helping toddlers to seniors.

We see our job as creating opportunities to help our neighbors who might say, 'I want to help' but who may be looking for guidance about where their resources might best help literacy programs serving preschoolers to seniors," said John Schniedwind, a retired American Century vice president and now LPMP's treasurer.

Angie Holman, executive director of Ravenswood Classroom Partners, said in late November an LPMP grant enabled her group to design "a new high-dosage literacy model to provide deeper one-on-one support" – tutoring strategies that were designed to support local school efforts to prevent kids from falling behind during Covid classroom closures.

LPMP is one of this year's beneficiaries of The Almanac's Holiday Fund. Donations are divided equally among this year's 10 nonprofit organizations and 100% of the funds raised go directly to the recipients. Donations to the Holiday Fund can be made here .

Heriberto Madrigal, a Belle Haven native and professional librarian in San Mateo County, said he was pleased to see before joining the LPMP board of directors in November how the group's programs and relationships cross-fertilize each other. "These inspire working relationships that are likely to promote insights that can supercharge programs LPMP supports."

For example, East Palo Alto Kids' (EPAK) Micro Grants program, another LPMP recipient, provides small grants to individual teachers for incidentals, such as classroom supplies that may be taken for granted in wealthy schools. EPAK noted that one Belle Haven School teacher, Brianna Richards, used a micro grant to buy materials to create a classroom soccer scenario developed to help her 4th graders learn math. The micro grant program also supports another LPMP recipient, All Five, an early education program in Belle Haven. Karen Pace of All Five noted that the research-inspired preschool is high quality enough to attract and retain full-pay families. The other 75% of enrolled families have incomes at or near the poverty line, and their tuition is paid by state funding or a family's sliding scale rate. All students receive the same high-quality programming regardless of income, Pace said.

LPMP, founded in 2020, started as Literacy Partners – Project Read in 1984 to support the Menlo Park Public Library, a relationship which continues. In September, LPMP gave $31,000 to buy loanable laptops and library amenities, notably furniture for public areas needed by the public returning to the library after the pandemic.

Initially, the furniture was used by seniors bused to the library when their own day use meeting place in Belle Haven was closed for construction. Madrigal noted that the mix of books and socialization could be empowering for low-literacy patrons who might not see the library as a destination but might be interested in browsing books once there – "and that's another important connection," she said.

Other LPMP recipients this year include StreetCode Academy to support a portion of the nonprofit's program that provides laptops, internet and tech education to students in East Menlo Park and East Palo Alto through its LevelUp initiative. LPMP also supports JobTrain, a Menlo Park-based regional career training program, that teaches basic digital skills to adult community members. LPMP is interested in developing/supporting programs that will help, small business people, such as landscapers and housecleaners, efficiently manage basic paperwork, including, bids and billing.

Along with Schniedwind and Madrigal, current LPMP Board Members include President Mike Goodkind and longtime Bay Area and international educator Margaret Simmons. Jason Schendel of Sheppard Mullin is the organization's pro bono attorney, and Madhavi Desai recently joined as volunteer webmaster.

LPMP continues to recruit qualified and enthusiastic board members who can participate in fundraising and community grant vetting that often includes hands-on involvement. Donations and inquiries are always welcome through LPMP's website,, or by mail at Literacy Partners – Menlo Park, 1259 El Camino Real, #176, Menlo Park, CA 94025. LPMP's President, Mike Goodkind, may be reached at

Mike Goodkind is the president of Literacy Partners, a nonprofit in Menlo Park.

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2024 Recipient Agency

Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula
Provides after-school academic support, enrichment, and mentoring for 1,800 low-income K-12 youth at nine locations across Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, and the North Fair Oaks neighborhood of Redwood City.

Ecumenical Hunger Program
Provides emergency food, clothing, household essentials, and sometimes financial assistance to families in need, regardless of religious preference, including Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for more than 2,000 households.

Fair Oaks Community Center
The Fair Oaks Community Center provides social services to the residents of the neighborhood, including programs for seniors, immigrants, renters and the unhoused, as well as housing assistance, ESL classes and child care.

Provides shelter/housing and supportive services across 18 sites in Silicon Valley and the Peninsula. Serves thousands of homeless families and individuals annually on their path back to permanent housing and self-sufficiency.

Literacy Partners
Supports literacy programs and projects through fundraising and community awareness. Helps community members enhance their reading, writing and related skills and education to improve their economic, professional and personal wellbeing.

Ravenswood Family Health Center
Provides primary medical and preventive health care for all ages at its clinic in East Palo Alto. Of the more than 17,000 registered patients, most are low-income and uninsured and live in the ethnically diverse East Palo Alto, Belle Haven, and North Fair Oaks areas.

St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room
Serves hundreds of hot meals six days a week to people in need who walk through the doors. Funded by voluntary contributions and community grants, St. Anthony's is the largest dining room for the needy between San Francisco and San Jose. It also offers take-home bags of food, as well as emergency food and clothing assistance.

Second Harvest Food Bank
Second Harvest Food Bank distributes nutritious food to low income individuals and families, leveraging every available food resource and collaborating with other organizations and people to feed the needy in the community.

Serves more than 32,000 people throughout San Mateo County, including children, young people and families, with counseling, prevention, early intervention, education, and residential programs. StarVista also provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services including a 24-hour suicide crisis hotline, an alcohol and drug helpline, and a parent support hotline.

Upward Scholars
Upward Scholars empowers low-income adults by providing them with financial support, tutoring, and other assistance so they can continue their education, get higher-paying jobs, and serve as role models and advocates for their children.

As of November 30th, 37 donors have contributed $55,922 to the Holiday Fund.
* indicates amount withheld at donor's request

6 Anonymous12,500
John Donald and Elaine Hammond*
Lori & Dennis McBride*
Barb Jacobson150
John and Shirley Reiter150
Greg & Penny Gallo500
Marc & Mary Ann Saunders*
Colleen & Geoff Tate*
Jim & Karen Lewis*
Paul Perret1,000
Vicky Rundorff*
Don & Catherine Coluzzi*
Janet Buce Cook*
Barbara and Charles Preuss500
Karen Perlroth*
Karen Perlroth*
Paul Welander25
Dennis Ruby300
Sybille Katz*
Kayleen Miller200
Kurt & Sue Jaggers10,000
Cathy and Jim Koshland150
Mark and Karen Weitzel*
Sidney Chen & Sandra Lee Chen*
Bill Wohler462
Linda Craig and Evan Hughes250
Foody Family500
joyce castellino500
Michael & Leslie Crisp*
Connie & Bob Lurie1,000
In Memory Of

Ruth & Chet Johnson*
Bob Mueller100