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Akron Children’s and The J.M. Smucker Co. establish the Smucker’s Berry Good Reading Program

12-07-2023 (Akron, Ohio )

Akron Children’s received a $1 million gift from The J.M. Smucker Co. to support the hospital’s early literacy efforts through the creation of the Smucker’s Berry Good Reading Program.

“One of the most effective ways to promote early literacy development among young children is to read aloud to them on a frequent basis, but it is estimated that only 48 percent of young children are read to daily by a family member,” said Bernett Williams, chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer and vice president, external initiatives at Akron Children’s. “This rate is even lower for minority and low-income families. And currently, 53 percent of our overall patient population at Akron Children’s is Medicaid eligible.”

The Smucker’s Berry Good Reading Program provides the hospital with the funds to grow the scope and quality of its early literacy outreach efforts by encouraging families to read aloud together. As part of the program, children ages 6 months to 5 years old who come in for their annual well-child visits receive a new book to take home. Through the program, Smucker and Akron Children’s will distribute more than 60,000 new, developmentally appropriate books at Akron Children’s facilities this year.

“We are thrilled to expand our support of Akron Children’s early literacy initiatives through the launch of the Smucker’s Berry Good Ready Program,” said Tamara Fynan, executive director, community engagement and philanthropy at The J.M. Smucker Co. “The program helps children embrace the many benefits of books and storytelling, promoting the development of language skills, imagination and natural curiosity. It also exposes young, developing minds to the joy of books while educating their parents and caregivers on the importance of reading to your child.”

Smucker made its initial contribution to support Akron Children’s dedicated early literacy program in 2019, expanding on its longtime philanthropic partnership of the organization. In addition to supporting early literacy efforts, Smucker has contributed to nursing scholarships at The Lois and John Orr Family Behavioral Health Center to promote children’s developmental and mental health; sponsors the Doggie Brigade, bringing specially trained dogs to patients and their families to offer a bit of much deserved joy; and established the J.M. Smucker Company Bistro in the Considine Professional Building on the Akron campus to offer families a place to gather and enjoy a meal together.

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