Young woman and student smile and read Tacky the Penguin


Lead to Read KC was founded in 2011 by two former teachers, Lynn and Jean Rundle, who were passionate about helping children succeed. After years of mentoring and tutoring teens who struggled in school, they realized the problem wasn’t just that the kids weren’t reading; it was that reading didn’t seem relevant to them.

With this in mind, they set out to create a program that would not only improve reading skills but also instill a love of reading. After months of research and consultation with leaders in education and the local community, Lynn and Jean launched what is now known as the Reading Mentoring program.

The initiative began with just a handful of volunteers in several Kansas City-area schools and has since flourished to include 1,700 Reading Mentors. The program also established Lead to Read KC as a powerful partner for public and charter schools in the area, which has been leveraged to diversify programming. Learn more below.

Founders Lynn and Jean Rundle

Our Mission

To support the social, emotional and reading skills that are foundational to student success by advancing our literacy platform and mobilizing community volunteers.

The Challenge

Grade when students switch from learning to read to reading to learn


Third-graders in KC public and charter schools reading proficiently

Likelihood of dropping out of high school if you can't read by third grade


Youth in the juvenile justice system that are functionally illiterate

It’s simple. Children who read proficiently by third grade will be more successful in school and life. We’re having a huge impact, but unfortunately, requests for Reading Mentors currently outnumber our volunteer base. With more mentors committing one lunch hour each week to help students with reading, we can move more students to proficiency.

Our Values

We stand for inclusiveness, equity, and respect―and against racism. We will speak up for equity and justice in schools. We operate with the utmost respect for our employees, volunteers and the communities we serve.

Our Programs

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Reading Mentoring

Caring adults volunteer during their lunch hour to read one-on-one in the classroom with a student.

Tutoring Icon


Individualized online tutoring through Hoot Reading helps students master foundational reading skills.

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Reading For Life

We bring local authors to schools for interactive read-alouds focused on mental health and wellness.

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Book Distribution

We stock baskets of free books in places where children are often waiting with parents or caregivers.

“We are working with the next generation of scientists, artists, entrepreneurs and maybe even presidents. When we help a kid read, we give them a valuable skill, but when we teach them to love reading, we open up the world to them. Let us never forget that.”


Assistant Vice President, Citi

Certifications & Awards

While we hope our impact speaks for itself, we’re proud to be recognized by the community for our work. Click on each image to learn more.

Platinum Transparency 2024 seal from Candid
United Way of Greater Kansas City Impact 100 logo
American Association of School Librarians logo
Kansas City Public Schools logo
Nonprofit Connect Philly Award logo

Get Involved

We need you! There are so many ways to be part of the solution to our community’s literacy crisis. Choose to give your time or resources to Lead to Read KC.