Keith Baldwin

Daily Point of Light # 3453 Apr 30, 2007

When Keith Baldwin started the RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) program 25 years ago, under the Kiwanis Club of Copper County’s youth services umbrella, the partnership was one of the first for the two national organizations. Today the national Kiwanis organization designates RIF a “priority one” program and encourages Kiwanis volunteers to sponsor RIF programs in communities throughout the United States.

“In the early years, Keith recognized that young adults reading stories to the children had a helpful impact in encouraging third graders to see reading as an enjoyable activity,” said Ernie Griff, a longtime friend and Kiwanis volunteer.

This inspired Baldwin to organize members of a Michigan Tech fraternity to read to children at several of the RIF schools with the intention of getting young boys to show more interest in reading.

As the RIF program expanded to serve additional schools, Baldwin discovered that sorting the books was fast becoming an unwieldy challenge. He developed a coding system that was adapted by two major books suppliers, which sorts the books into boxes for each school. Volunteers from Kiwanis then label the books, deliver them to each school, and attend the book distribution parties.

While Baldwin’s community is remote and has many areas that are economically disadvantaged, it has embraced the importance of reading and books. Griff credits the RIF program with helping area children improve their scores on standardized tests in reading.

“Books are my passion,” said Baldwin. “They have made a difference in my own life. It is my fondest hope that they also make difference in a child’s life.”When Keith Baldwin started the RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) program 25 years ago, under the Kiwanis Club of Copper County’s youth services umbrella, the partnership was one of the first for the two national organizations. Today the national Kiwanis organization designates RIF a “priority one” program and encourages Kiwanis volunteers to sponsor RIF programs in communities throughout the United States.

“In the early years, Keith recognized that young adults reading stories to the children had a helpful impact in encouraging third graders to see reading as an enjoyable activity,” said Ernie Griff, a longtime friend and Kiwanis volunteer.

This inspired Baldwin to organize members of a Michigan Tech fraternity to read to children at several of the RIF schools with the intention of getting young boys to show more interest in reading.

As the RIF program expanded to serve additional schools, Baldwin discovered that sorting the books was fast becoming an unwieldy challenge. He developed a coding system that was adapted by two major books suppliers, which sorts the books into boxes for each school. Volunteers from Kiwanis then label the books, deliver them to each school, and attend the book distribution parties.

While Baldwin’s community is remote and has many areas that are economically disadvantaged, it has embraced the importance of reading and books. Griff credits the RIF program with helping area children improve their scores on standardized tests in reading.

“Books are my passion,” said Baldwin. “They have made a difference in my own life. It is my fondest hope that they also make difference in a child’s life.”

 

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