Mike Goodkind heads new non-profit Literacy Partners – Menlo Park
Menlo Park resident Mike Goodkind says he’s always been interested in the “world of words.”
“I worked on my high school and college daily and then went into the Peace Corps as I thought that experience might be useful for a journalist,” he recalled.
He worked for the Associated Press in Los Angeles before embarking on a 20-year career as an editor, science communicator, and public relations specialist at Stanford Medical Center, retiring in 2002. Soon after, he learned about Project Read and did part-time work as a computer lab coordinator for Redwood City Project Read for four years.
“I really enjoyed that and eventually took on a volunteer position at the Menlo Park Library’s Project Read program,” he said.
A turning point came in 2019 when a new library director took over “with lots of visionary ideas.”
“We started discussing how we could go beyond the library’s narrow focus of adult literacy,” he said, “and how we might support students and young people. You teach a kid to read and you’ve taught an adult for life.”
In May 2020, the organization adopted a new name, Literacy Partners – Menlo Park. “The name emphasizes both our community focus and our enduring commitment to literacy,” Mike wrote in a letter to donors. “We have revised our bylaws and mission statement to broaden our mission so that we can support other literacy programs besides Project Read. With our new mission and concurrent changes in our structure and bylaws, we will now have the opportunity to fund programs that will more broadly help family, childhood and youth literacy.”
Mike believes the Menlo Park Library will continue to request literacy funding. “We recently approved a $40,000 grant requested by the Menlo Park Library for an innovative pilot program to provide private cubicles that will enable learners and tutors to meet confidentially within the Menlo Park Library in a dedicated meeting space when the library reopens (following the current COVID-19 shut-down). The grant also includes $5,000 to purchase 10 laptop computers or tablets which can be used by learner-tutor pairs.”
Demonstrating the expanded interest into youth literacy, Literacy Partners – Menlo Park made its first grant, giving up to $50,000 to StreetCode’s Level Up digital educational effort in Belle Haven and surrounding communities in December 2020. That was followed by a $5,000 grant to All Students Matter this year.
“Our goal through the pandemic has been to fulfill needs in both directions and do all we can to keep things afloat,” said Mike. “One of the things we are most proud of is that our board members all have had some connection to hands on literacy. We continue to welcome people who are interested in taking a leadership role in the organization.”
Photo by Robb Most (c) 2021