By Paul Willis, Senior Impact Manager, City Year Sacramento

Leataata Floyd Elementary School is a tightknit community of approximately 350 students who live in the neighboring public housing. At the beginning of last school year, only 23 of those students were reading at grade level. With the introduction of literature circles, word study and levelled reading books, that statistic quickly began to shift. The City Year Sacramento team of eight AmeriCorps members were running small group interventions focused on building students’ ability to decode new words, students’ fluency and reading comprehension skills. However, it was quickly realized that there was a need of culturally relevant and age appropriate books featuring diverse protagonists, story lines and settings to support the schools efforts of getting more students interested in reading and supporting grade level proficiency. 

Shari Slate, Vice President, Chief Inclusion and Collaboration Officer at Cisco witnessed this need firsthand after touring Leataata Floyd with City Year Sacramento and school site staff earlier in the year.  This tour inspired Shari to lead the charge of making Cisco not only the presenting sponsor for City Year Sacramento’s Ripples of Hope Gala two years in a row but also the literacy sponsor of the City Year team serving Leataata Floyd Elementary.  She enlisted the support of the Sacramento Chapter of Cisco’s Connected Women—a global community whose mission is to attract and develop talented women at Cisco. Employee Jennifer Rillera took the lead and organized a book drive resulting in donations of over 530 books valued at approximately $3,500! The good news didn’t stop there. 

On a recent call to thank Cisco Connected Women volunteers, Shari and Kelly Kramer, Cisco’s CFO and City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley board member, announced that Cisco will match the amount raised in order for the school to purchase additional books. Leataata Floyd Elementary Principal Eric Chapman who was on the call responded by saying “We’re incredibly grateful to both City Year Sacramento and Cisco for coming together to help support the growth of our students.  We want to thank Shari Slate, our partners at Cisco and the entire team at Cisco Connected Women!”

The City Year team serving at Leataata Floyd Elementary School sorting books by reading level. 

Jondell Taylor, Senior AmeriCorps member, reading to students in the library.

Jennifer Rillera from Cisco Connect Women delivering over 350 books to the school.

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