Moments that Reach
CEO Blog

Celebrating 35 Years of Reach Out and Read With 350,000 Books 

June 5, 2024

By Marty Martinez, CEO

As I hope you’ve heard by now, Reach Out and Read National recently launched 35 for 35, a specially curated collection of books that celebrate the millions of families you have helped us serve in the last 35 years — and the millions more we will reach together.

Reach Out and Read and Scholastic collaborated to create this $1 million, 35th anniversary collection: 10,000 copies of each of the 35 titles — 350,000 total books — have been printed, and the collection will ship as a set to Reach Out and Read sites nationwide. (Interested in getting copies to your clinics? Email Angela Cunningham, Director of Books Strategy.)

These visionary, new-to-Reach Out and Read books reflect our mission and the healthy families and communities we continue to support and help build. To help parents and their young children create connections through shared reading, we must provide access to books that authentically mirror their lives or offer a window into others’. This collection is created to do exactly that.

The books:

  • Embrace the full range of family structures and identities we serve. 
  • Highlight vibrant stories about the inclusive communities and cultures in which they live.  
  • Create moments of meaningful interaction that cement family bonds and lay the foundation for early literacy.  
  • Offer clinicians a variety of ways to increase engagement with books, including high-profile authors, additional digital resources, and fun, relatable tales.

This unprecedented collection, led by emerging and acclaimed contemporary authors, underscores Reach Out and Read’s unique goal of supporting the foundational moments of young children through literacy, transformative relationships, and holistic pediatric care.

Visit to find engaging content about and inspired by these books, to learn about the authors and illustrators behind the award-winning titles, to catch the 35 for 35 ep of the #RORPodcast, and discover more resources over the coming weeks and months. I hope you’re as excited by 35 for 35 as I am. 

Investments in Dramatically Expanding Reach Out and Read’s Impact 

April 5, 2024

By Marty Martinez, CEO

Our work stems from the core value that all children require equitable access to the opportunities vital for a strong start in life. To provide that access, we must not only grow, but grow with quality, across the entire network.

I am eager to announce two significant developments that will not only further our investment in quality, but also expand it to reach even more young children across the country.

First: We have secured the second-largest grant in our 35-year history. The Valhalla Foundation has awarded Reach Out and Reach $6 million across three years to advance several goals, including to increase access to children with a focus on diverse, multicultural, and bilingual families and to develop new research on how the Reach Out and Read model impacts early relational health.

We strive to be a population-level intervention, and this generous grant (which we will publicly announce next week) will help us build evidence, infrastructure, awareness, and systems to support this growth.

Second: We are continuing to leverage last year’s historic MacKenzie Scott gift to invest in local communities. The Growth with Quality National Investment Initiative supports Affiliate efforts in the field, including implementing Quality Standards, rolling out Building Connections Begins at Birth, and expanding in new geographies. Including this $350,000 allocation, National has used more than $750,000 of the Scott gift to directly invest in Affiliate initiatives.

We are excited to announce funding to the following Affiliates, whose projects will improve quality and increase capacity across the network: Alabama, Florida, Greater Philadelphia, Inland Empire, Mississippi, Minnesota, New Jersey, Northeast (Maine), Northwest, Ohio, Orange County, Pennsylvania, San Diego, and Texas.

Projects range from centering community and increasing brand awareness to expanding in geographies and implementing our model for newborns. Read about all of these efforts here.

Support from leading philanthropic investors like Valhalla Foundation and MacKenzie Scott positions us to meet the moment we know is ahead. Our new strategic plan, DEI efforts, and dedicated staff across all levels of our network will help us dramatically increase our impact and build a world where every child has the relationships essential to thrive.

Bringing Reach Out and Read’s Mission Back to Capitol Hill 

March 7, 2024

By Marty Martinez, CEO

Advocating for the best possible pediatric care for all children 5 and under is a key part of Reach Out and Read’s work. We believe in the power of well-child visits and their ability to provide critically important support and care for children and families. Our model allows us to strengthen that experience across the country, but we need to give all children access to our evidence-based approach. In order to advance this goal, we must raise our collective voice in the halls of government at all levels.    

As part of a new chapter in our federal advocacy work, I recently traveled to DC for an initial round of legislative visits. In conversations with staffers across the Hill, we discussed the three decades of impact Reach Out and Read has had on millions of children and families nationwide. We highlighted the need to ensure that our model becomes a core component of every well-child visit for all children 5 and under. And we talked about ways the federal government can support our mission through innovative grant programs and longer-term efforts to drive important resources to Reach Out and Read across the country. It was a great opportunity to introduce our new national Public Policy Agenda to these offices and to emphasize the ways our priorities will help strengthen the overall system of early childhood development, early literacy, and early relational health.  

These visits once again showcased the transformative power of our network and our deep engagement with tens of thousands of clinicians, working in thousands of clinics, across all 50 states. The value of that network and its child-by-child, state-by-state impact sets us up for more meaningful engagement with the federal government as we strive for systems-level support. These visits will help us open more doors and begin more conversations to ensure that Reach Out and Read is positioned to advance our agenda and our vision for all children.  

This is just the beginning of our intentional restart of federal policy and advocacy work. If you haven’t yet, please explore the Public Policy Agenda to get a feel for the priorities, recommendations, and strategies we will pursue over the coming months and years. 

I look forward to engaging with our entire network on ways we can elevate our collective voice to advance the work of Reach Out and Read in every corner of the country. 

Investing in Local Communities

February 7, 2024

By Marty Martinez, CEO

We are excited to share our 2024 National Investment Initiative grants! Reach Out and Read National is funding more than $400,000 in 10 Affiliate projects that advance local efforts tied to National priorities. While we couldn’t fund all of the strong proposals we received, we are excited that we can direct dedicated resources to half of the Affiliates who applied. These awards will support important work on the ground and continue to create more opportunities for Affiliate/National partnerships to advance our shared goals. We are committed to leveraging MacKenzie Scott’s transformative gift to continue investing in growing with quality across the network.

These new, growth-minded projects received the awards:

  • Arizona: Expand support to Reach Out and Read clinics; $40,000
  • Bay Area: Hire staff to secure sustained fiscal support; $40,000  
  • Carolinas/Mid-Atlantic: Increase community partnerships; $40,000
  • Florida: Launch Clinician Learning Collaborative; $40,000
  • Greater New York: Purchase diverse books; $40,000
  • Indiana: Hire staff to secure sustained fiscal support; $40,000
  • Michigan: Fund books for statewide expansion; $38,500
  • Northeast: Hire staff to secure fiscal support for expansion into Maine; $40,000
  • Northwest: Expand public awareness throughout medical community; $37,500
  • Wisconsin: Create diverse books initiative; $44,995

We look forward to helping to advance these projects, providing visibility around the initiative and these Affiliates’ work, and bringing learnings from it into the larger network. Please be on the lookout for ongoing initiatives investing National resources into local efforts in 2024! Read more about the projects:

Empowering Affiliates and Their Communities Through National Investments 

January 10, 2024

By Marty Martinez, CEO

I am delighted to share successes from the 2023 National Investment Initiative. Reach Out and Read National invested $150,000 to directly support Affiliates across the country and help advance National priorities. These include strengthening promotions of early relational health, growth and quality implementation of our model; creating sustainable funding and increasing brand visibility amongst others.

Here’s a brief look at the projects:

Reach Out and Read Colorado worked toward state Health Services Initiative funding.

Reach Out and Read Kansas City explored a sliding scale for cost sharing.

Reach Out and Read New Jersey raised awareness about underutilized free universal preschool opportunities.

Reach Out and Read Oklahoma implemented a Mirrors and Windows book project with 34 mostly rural clinics.

Reach Out and Read Rhode Island created new print collateral and images that unify their brand and represent the diverse communities that they serve.

Reach Out and Read San Diego implemented Building Connections Begins at Birth at select clinics, training clinicians and providing books and resources for the 2- and 4-month well-child visits.

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin grew brand awareness through badge reels and bus advertising — they expect a total of 6 to 7 million impressions by the time the campaign ends.

This National investment not only supported local Affiliates, but also sparked innovative approaches to community engagement, sustainability, and diversity and inclusion. We thank these seven Affiliates and their staffs for both their ideas and their dedication in leveraging these funds to make a lasting impact. Look for more information soon on our 2024 grantees, who will share more than $400,000 in grants, made possible by National’s MacKenzie Scott investment, to make even more progress across the country. More to come!

(Image: Reach Out and Read Wisconsin)

Adding Our Voice to the Health Equity Conversation 

October 2, 2023

By Marty Martinez, CEO

I recently joined Reach Out and Read Northeast leader Alex Chu at the Massachusetts State House to lend our support and advocacy to a critically important effort to boost health equity in the Commonwealth. As Reach Out and Read leaders, we are part of an effort driven by leaders of color across Massachusetts to tackle the many health inequities that impact the families and children we serve.  

The Health Equity Compact is a group of more than 80 leaders of color who aim to advance health equity in Massachusetts. Compact members are high-level executives and experts from a diverse set of health, business, labor, and philanthropic organizations, including hospitals, health centers, payers, academic institutions, and public health. They bring their lived experience, expertise, and commitment to the work to advance health equity.

This Massachusetts effort is directly tied to Reach Out and Read’s work to tackle the systemic challenges that create different health systems and outcomes for children and families of color and ultimately prevent these families from thriving. This Compact is working to offer public policy solutions in Massachusetts, and it’s essential that Reach Out and Read is a part of that conversation and part of the overall work to create system change for our community.

We added our voice those of the many leaders who shared important perspectives about the Act to Advance Health Equity, the bill written by the Compact that is seen an integral lever in tackling health equities across the state. The Act will 1.) make government more equitable by prioritizing equity at all levels, 2.) improve community-level access to quality care by ensuring communities are at the heart of driving meaningful change and 3.) create greater access to data and improve our shared understanding of the needs that impact our communities.

Reach Out and Read is excited about the “health equity zones” that the bill would create and fund. These zones would empower neighborhoods to drive the kinds of services, programs, and changes they need to tackle the health inequities playing out in their community. Our efforts to grow Reach Out and Read focus on community health centers in a variety of locations across the country, and zones like these would help to drive necessary resources to areas with the greatest need for programs like ours. The Act will advance access, affordability, and prioritization of the issues that disproportionally impact our families and children, so it’s vital that we stay connected to this work.  

All over the country, leaders of color are organizing and driving efforts to give greater importance and prioritization to health equity work and the policy solutions that can create real systemic change. As a leading population-level intervention for children and families across the country, we at Reach Out and Read know these inequities firsthand, and we will continue to connect our local work to these critical policy initiatives. At the same time, we continue to expand our model and create even more opportunities for families to bond and to build the relationships they need to thrive.

As I sat at the State House, one voice of many advocates urging action by our elected leaders, it was clear: Now is the time to meet this critical moment. We must tackle the systems that continue to prevent all families from reaching their full potential.

(Image: Health Equity Compact)

Son’s Dive Into Book Showcases Need for Diversity

September 7, 2023

By Marty Martinez, CEO

The Reach Out and Read team often discusses the need for diverse representation in books: We want children and families to see themselves reflected in the stories that are part of our organization. We are committed to ensuring not only that diverse books are built into our model, but also that we do the important work to make them more available, more affordable and more accessible to our clinics and provider champions across the country — they are a critical element of our work. As we scale our programs to meet families where they are and center our work in the communities we are striving to serve, equity is key. But sometimes the conversation about diverse books and what they represent is best understood when we see it and feel it firsthand.

My 5-year-old loves “Jabari Jumps.” In this book by Gaia Cornwall, Jabari has learned to swim, and he’s ready for the next challenge — to jump off the diving board. With the support of his dad, Jabari is building up the courage to do exactly that, even if he is a little nervous. Jabari is a young Black boy, and it is clear through the illustrations that, with his father’s help, he is learning to be brave in this moment.

My son was drawn to the book the very first time we read it at bedtime. He often refers to Jabari in moments when he is trying to be “brave.” He sees himself in Jabari — not only in his appearance and how he says “Jabari looks like me” — but in what, with his dad’s encouragement, Jabari is trying to figure out. My son is connected to the character, and he sees himself in the story. That connection not only creates a link from Jabari’s journey on the page to my son’s own experiences, but it also helps to further the bond that my son and I build when we read it together. Whether it’s a fall at tee-ball or a bumblebee flying close at the park, he relates his experiences to Jabari being brave and his dad helping him along the way.

That is the power of books that are diverse and reflect the children and families we seek to serve. They allow children to see themselves in these stories and for families to relate to the journeys they read about together. Jabari and my son emphasize that Reach Out and Read’s effort to source and provide diverse books is as important as ever. It truly helps to advance our work and to increase the impact we have on families, each and every day.

(Image: Candlewick)

The Journey of Inclusion

July 26, 2023

By Marty Martinez, CEO

As we continue to strengthen Reach Out and Read for an even more transformative impact across the country, we are tackling key organizational issues that need attention. When I arrived in 2022, I made a commitment to strengthen our work focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. While the organization has engaged in a variety of diversity initiatives over the years — and, from the very beginning, has been committed to meeting the needs of families and children who may need us most — there is still much work to be done to center equity, both internally and externally. It’s an area that we are committed to moving forward.

As we strive to create a culture of inclusivity and promote diversity in all ways, there are more opportunities for development. Over the past six months, we have made progress, and we remain committed to moving the needle. Under the leadership of our new national Chief of Staff, Johnnetta Anderson — the first national staff member providing dedicated leadership to all things DEI across the organization and network — we have begun to formalize our strategy and focus on both short-term activities and longer-term goals and objectives.

For example, we have strengthened our recruitment and hiring practices to diversify staff across the organization and created a path for ongoing training and development on inclusion and diversity. We have also begun national engagement with a DEI firm who will work across the organization at all levels. They will provide team coaching and training to increase content knowledge and shared understanding of where our organization is today and the supports that are required to strengthen this work. We are excited about this 10-month project, which will build important capacity across the organization and network as we work to center equity in our efforts nationwide.

Strengthening DEI across Reach Out and Read’s network is an important part of the puzzle as we build an even stronger organization to meet the needs of families and children. We will continue this challenging work, and we are eager to stay engaged with our network as we move forward and become an even stronger organization and model.

Reach Out and Read Florida in Action

June 30, 2023

By Marty Martinez, CEO

Visiting Reach Out and Read leaders, clinicians, and supporters nationwide is an integral part of my job, providing me with firsthand experience of our impactful work. It never ceases to amaze me how passion and strategic efforts have driven remarkable outcomes for children and families within our network.

Recently, I had the opportunity to witness Reach Out and Read Florida in action during a visit to Miami. In just two days, I witnessed the local initiatives fueling growth and making a significant difference for children and families. It became evident that our organization is expanding its reach while continuing to grow.

During my visit, I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Lourdes Forster, the Reach Out and Read Florida Medical Director, at our site in UHealth Pediatrics, which is part of the University of Miami health system.

Engaging in conversations about children’s welfare in Florida with Dave Lawrence, a long-standing Reach Out and Read supporter and passionate advocate for children who founded the Children’s Movement of Florida, provided me with a profound understanding of the importance of our model and organization in promoting early relational health for all children across the state.

Witnessing the dedication of the supporters in action, I observed the positive impact Reach Out and Read Florida has on over 200 clinics throughout the state, benefiting more than 200,000 children.

These local leaders included champions from managed care organizations, local schools, government officials, and committed medical practitioners with extensive experience implementing Reach Out and Read programs locally. Additionally, supporters included meeting a key funder in the Children’s Trust.

I also spent time with one of Reach Out and Read Florida’s most influential partners, Head Start of Florida, and its passionate staff and leaders who work tirelessly to advance Head Start and Early Head Start initiatives statewide.

Dr. Maite Riestra-Quintero, the leader of the statewide association, emphasized the strong and trustworthy relationship she has built with Reach Out and Read, collaborating to achieve common goals and priorities for children across Miami and Dade County.

To conclude my visit, I attended a day-long summit hosted jointly by Reach Out and Read Florida and Early Head Start. The summit focused on how their collaborative efforts promote early relational health for children statewide, highlighting their shared strategy in creating significant “moments that matter” to ensure children’s healthy development from the very beginning.

The exceptional work I witnessed throughout the visit directly reflects the exceptional leadership of the affiliate and her commitment to connecting Reach Out and Read with the local early childhood ecosystem.

Florida Executive Director Lisa Blair and the Miami-Dade County Family Partnership work tirelessly to expand Reach Out and Read’s presence in Florida and increase access to our model for all children throughout the state.

They have built a robust organization that diligently aligns its efforts with key partners, thereby expanding the reach and impact of our work. These local visits serve as a constant reminder of the dedication and influence of leaders like Lisa in growing and scaling Reach Out and Read, ensuring our mission reaches every child universally.

The experience in Florida serves as a shining example of the important work we must continue to do at the local level. I am genuinely excited to witness our initiatives in action across the country, continually reaffirming the dedication and effectiveness of our approach.

The Impact of Environment and Climate Change on Early Childhood Development

May 25, 2023

By Marty Martinez, CEO

The work of strengthening the earliest development of all children is a critical part of what we do at Reach Out and Read. Our role in supporting strong relationships for families and their young children is key to the impact we are striving to make across the country. This work cannot be done in isolation or separate from many of the other challenges facing families and communities at large.

We must look at how the issues impacting children intersect and how we can find greater alignment and synergy to advance our shared efforts at improving the lives of children today and tomorrow.

A recent dialogue with Reach Out and Read champion David Willis, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Social Policy and Joan Lombardi, Director of the Early Opportunities Initiative about the connection between climate change and early childhood shows the need for interconnectedness on issues impacting children. Read this blog on to learn more.

Reach Out and Read National Investment in State & Local Efforts

April 27, 2023

By Marty Martinez, CEO

Reach Out and Read continues to strengthen our work across the country as we try to meet this critical moment for children and families. As part of our ongoing effort to advance national priorities that include, amongst others, growing with quality, increasing our visibility in the community, strengthening our role promoting early relational health and creating sustainable funding and resource opportunities, Reach Out and Read National seeks to make investments that will make measurable progress. None of that progress is possible without strong infrastructure across the country and that includes high quality affiliates driving quality implementation of Reach Out and Read at the clinic level.

In order to advance national priorities, local investment is needed and that is why Reach Out and Read National is investing $150,000 of surplus funding across the network this Spring in a new initiative. We are proud to invest in 7 affiliates who were selected for funding to advance their local efforts that are aligned with national priorities.

This funding will help local affiliates drive important work including community organizing for public investment, strengthening implementation of Reach Out and Read by Beginning at Birth and promoting early relational health, focusing on DEI efforts through diverse representation in books at rural clinics, increasing visibility through branding and marketing campaigns and centering community by promoting free preschool opportunities through our reach with families. These are just some of the initiatives that are being funded by this national investment across the network. Funded affiliates include:

Reach Out and Read Kansas City

Reach Out and Read Rhode Island

Reach Out and Read San Diego

Reach Out and Read Oklahoma

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin

Reach Out and Read New Jersey

Reach Out and Read Colorado

We are excited to partner with these affiliates through this investment this year and will continue to look for ways to invest in local efforts helping to drive national priorities.

A Growing Network of Partners

March 29, 2023

By Marty Martinez, CEO

As Reach Out and Read continues to grow our work as a universal intervention for all children under five and as a key lever in strengthening early relational health nationwide, we are excited to be part of the recently launched Nurture Connection

Nurture Connection

This movement unites parents, health workers, researchers, policymakers, and community leaders in building a movement to promote early relational health for the well-being of families nationwide. The site gathers resources to equip everyone with the opportunities, knowledge, and connections needed to promote strong, positive and nurturing relationships within healthier, more resilient communities. 

As we continue to build off our three decades of success as an early childhood organization, we are focused more than ever on lifting up the important work that our clinicians and program staff are doing across the country to strengthen early literacy and create moments that matter for millions of children across our network. 

Visit the Nurture Connection website to learn more about this collective work! 

Growing with Quality: A Commitment to Children and Families

February 15, 2023

By Marty Martinez, CEO

A commitment to quality is a commitment to children and families, a belief we all share at Reach Out and Read. Throughout Reach Out and Read’s 33-year history, impact has been made possible by the work and dedication of staff members, the belief and passion of clinical teams bringing the program to life, and an evidence-based model that has both stood the test of time and evolved to best serve children and families over the years.  

Reach Out and Read needs to systematize its structure, quality standards, and Affiliate-National partnership to achieve our Next Chapter strategy and full potential as a population-level public health intervention. As the network continues to grow, strengthen, and build upon this foundation, it is more critical than ever to work together, move with urgency, and meet the moment together to serve millions of children. Through the definition of universal high-quality work and support at every level of our organization, Reach Out and Read also strives to build a culture of unity, transparency, equity, and learning. Reach Out and Read will determine how best to grow with quality and equity to ensure that the children and families needing the intervention have access.   

To build toward this vision, Reach Out and Read National is collaborating with the Affiliate network to:  

  • Define quality standards at the National, Affiliate, and Site levels, 
  • Deepen partnership between National and Affiliates,  
  • Strengthen and support Affiliate growth in communities across the country.  

Reach Out and Read has spent the last eight months engaging multiple stakeholders to co-create these standards and is currently using them to establish quality baselines and move forward in continuous improvement and partnership together to meet them. 

Stay tuned for updates and progress on the quality standard journey, and on behalf of Reach Out and Read, we thank you for your partnership and support in this foundational work to grow with quality and equity, to help us build the Reach Out and Read of the future, and to achieve our collective vision in the service of children and families. 

Growing with Quality, Growing the Reach Out and Read Team

January 19, 2023

By Marty Martinez, CEO

Built on a solid foundation from our collective work last year, we begin this new year with hope and excitement for our future. With a new year, we welcome many new faces in 2023.

Expanding the scale of Reach Out and Read is vital to our organizational priorities and adding highly qualified and talented individuals supports our plans for growth with quality and fidelity to our model. I want to highlight two new senior positions that will help us grow as a public health intervention for all children, families, and communities. 

Johnnetta Anderson joins Reach Out and Read as our new Chief of Staff. This position will lead cross-departmental initiatives, and she will join the work of the organization’s senior leadership team. Leading the organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion work will be one of Johnnetta’s primary focuses.

  • Johnnetta Anderson bio

    As Chief of Staff for Reach Out and Read, Johnnetta Anderson will lead cross departmental initiatives and coordinate work as a member of the senior leadership team.  A primary focus is leadership of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work aimed at growing the knowledge and competency of staff and advancing equitable and inclusive policies and practices across our network helping to shepherd Reach Out and Read on that journey and leading the implementation work associated.  Johnnetta brings nearly 15 years of experience working with nonprofits that provide services to underserved communities. She has developed expertise in leadership, Quality Management, process improvement, program management and lived experiences with DEI.  Most recently she worked with the CDC Foundation on the Vaccine/Workforce initiative project team which provided support to state, territory, and tribal health departments across the country to address the Covid-19 pandemic.  Johnnetta is excited to join the Reach Out and Read team and support its impactful mission.


    Johnnetta is a community leader who has dedicated her career to supporting people in marginalized communities through her work as a board member for her local Red Cross chapter and as a Rotary Club past president and member. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgia College and State University, a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Arizona, and a Master of Business Administration from Mercer University. 

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Artavia Berry

Artavia Berry joins Reach Out and Read as the founding Executive Director for the Bay Area. Artavia will focus on strengthening internal operations and sharing stories of impact and opportunity across the Bay Area community. She will oversee program quality across sites and raise the funds needed to sustain and grow our impact.

  • Artavia Berry bio

    A native of Chicago, Artavia is a respected, inspirational and visionary leader in the nonprofit sector who delivers results for our community. She has led local, national and global initiatives to increase access to opportunities for our most vulnerable community members. 


    Artavia was trained under the tutelage of Michelle Obama in community development at Public Allies Chicago. She also served alongside the late Rev. Dr. Addie Wyatt, the late Rev. Willie Barrow and the late Rev. Dr. Leon Finney to create faith-centered social change, with a special focus on youth empowerment. She is an ordained minister, holding a B.A. in Theology and a Masters of Divinity from Grace Christian Seminary; and is an Alumna of Loyola University Chicago. 


    Artavia serves on several boards, co-founded a school in West Africa, and co-founded 2 tech startups. She is Chair of the Hayward Community Service Commission, where she helps allocate funding for critical community services and helps to shape public policy related to racial equity & healing, re-imagining policing, homelessness, and culturally relevant education. 

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Please help me welcome our new members to the team and Happy New Year!

Looking Ahead to 2023 with Strength, Hope and Excitement

December 15, 2022

By Marty Martinez, CEO

Reach Out and Read is looking forward to strengthening and deepening our impact on the children, families, and communities we serve in 2023. As 2022 comes to an end and we reflect on the past year, we feel gratitude for all the partners and allies we’ve encountered along the way. We look toward 2023 with strength, hope, and excitement.

Joining Reach Out and Read this year has been both exciting and hard work as we collectively build on three decades of impact to take Reach Out and Read to even greater heights. Our commitment to public health, combined with the proven success of the Reach Out and Read model, will serve as a strong foundation for the chapters that lie ahead for the organization. As a team, we will focus on strengthening early relational health for all children and families as we solidify ourselves as an essential population-level intervention for all children across the country.

We have much to celebrate in 2022, and as we transition into a new year, I am deeply motivated by our continued work with our partners at the Einhorn Collaborative and a transformative investment by the Overdeck Family Foundation in our work. We have had many highlights this year, and it’s our dedicated partners, funders and supporters who continue to believe in this work that makes it all possible. By working together, we will have a much greater impact on a child’s overall health and the ability to expand our services nationwide.

This next year, we are also striving to enhance our training model for clinicians to incorporate public health frameworks, build cross-sector connections with pediatric primary care sites and local communities, and bring the voice of parents and families to the forefront to ensure equitable access to all. We want to ensure we do this work from an equity lens throughout the country with continued emphasis on the importance of foundational relationships in early relational health and the future of ALL children.

On behalf of the organization, thank you for being part of our community, and we look forward to 2023 with strength, hope, and excitement.

Leadership on Location

November 14, 2022

By Marty Martinez, CEO

After three years, the Reach Out and Read Leadership Conference was finally back in person last month. More than 130 leaders gathered in Madison, Wisconsin to engage with our 2022 theme of Vision, Values, and Voices – a Networked Approach to Supporting Communities.

This event was my first in-person Leadership Conference. It was great to connect with so many people and to feel the passion and commitment for our collective work! I continue to be impressed and humbled by the dedication of our network as we build on the three decades of success working to strengthen our future. The spirit of our affiliate leaders, the commitment of our medical champions, the dedication of our board and staff leaders, and the support of our partners are all part of the Reach Out and Read magic, and it was on full display in Madison.

Coming together reaffirmed our shared belief that Reach Out and Read is central to a larger early childhood ecosystem. And, our evidence-based public health intervention strengthens early relational health for children and families and continues to impact communities across the country.

Our time together was filled with engagement and learning, with sessions on diverse books, research on Reach Out and Read’s effectiveness, and a plenary session on engaging healthcare systems. One highlight included the keynote address by Dr. Janean Dilworth-Bart, who walked us through a history of racial inequity that Black children have faced through time and how movements like ours can and should play a critical role in tackling systemic inequities that persist. It was the ‘journey’ she spoke of that related so well to the diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) work that Reach Out and Read continues to embark on that resonated with many attendees. It was great to have this moment for our leaders to come together and build community as we continue to grow our work across the country.

Training 10,000 Medical Providers in Early Relational Health

September 19, 2022

By Marty Martinez, CEO

Training complete for 10,000 providers

As Reach Out and Read continues our work to scale our model and grow our organization, we are focused on lifting up our role in strengthening the ties that bond between parents and children. Our work promoting early relational health through our model is central to our next chapter as an organization and a critical component of the work being done in partnership with our clinicians across the country. Learn more about how we are working to strengthen these efforts through training and knowledge sharing from our Chief of Research and Innovation Nikki Shearman in a recent recap about this work.

Click here to read the full story.

Planning for Growth

August 18, 2022

By Marty Martinez, CEO

Expanding the scale of Reach Out and Read is vital to our organizational priorities and plans for growth over the next few years. To broaden our impact, we must focus on growing with quality and fidelity to our model, so that all children can benefit from Reach Out and Read while we build an even stronger organization and movement across the country. 

Developing stronger affiliates is essential to the growth plan, ensuring that Reach Out and Read sites are supported as they strengthen sustainability, raise public awareness and position Reach Out and Read as national leaders in early child development. 

Developing the Bay Area Affiliate


Later this month, I will join a small group of national staff who will travel to the Bay Area in northern California to continue the work of growing a new regional affiliate in the area. Over the past 18 months, the National Office has laid the foundation for the Bay Area by creating a regional advisory committee, raising critical seed funding and hiring a local consultant to navigate the work. We are proud to expand upon the nearly 150 clinics already committed to program quality. 

Our travels will bring us to meetings with key funders, policy leaders, Reach Out and Read clinicians and other stakeholders as we work to build more support for our efforts and the work of Reach Out and Read in northern California. Meanwhile, the Program Operations and Research & Innovations teams are actively working to conduct quality site visits virtually and plan a virtual convening next month focused on Reach Out and Read’s role in the Bay Area promoting early relational health and strengthening access to diverse books across our sites. 

Growing an affiliate and expanding our reach is an all-hands-on-deck effort across our national team and will continue in other areas across the country over the next few years as we move to make an even greater impact on the lives of children across the country.    

Fostering Nurturing, Stable Environments for Children to Thrive

July 20, 2022

By Marty Martinez, CEO

As Reach Out and Read looks to strengthen our efforts and expand our reach, it is clear that the need for urgent action to focus on the earliest development and

health of children is being called out by many. As this Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Blog states, “More kids than ever face the prospect of growing up less healthy and living shorter lives than their parents.” This prospect is one that Reach Out and Read is eager to alter as we build upon our three decades of impact across the country and seek to strengthen early relational health for all children. This blog highlights some of the critical needs and efforts that are recommended to strengthen the focus of health systems, policy leaders, funders, and nonprofit organizations to make measurable advancing in this work.

Strengthening a Community – An Integrated Approach

June 16, 2022

By Marty Martinez, CEO

I continue to experience the power of Reach Out and Read throughout my in-person and virtual travels across the organization. I have learned that our model can work best when it is integrated into systems that support the child and the entire family. As we seek to strengthen our work within the community and in partnership with the community, it helps me to see that value in action. For example, on a recent visit to New York City, I learned how New York City Health+Hospitals/Bellevue is dedicated to initiating, funding, and developing programs that improve the health and well-being of children that visit their hospital for care.

Marty visiting Bellevue
Marty on a recent visit to New York City Health+Hospitals/Bellevue

An Integrated Approach

Claudia Aristy, the director and energy behind Bellevue’s Reach Out and Read program and member of Reach Out and Read’s National Board of Directors, shared what differentiates their program, “Our integrated approach truly sets us apart. The investment in full-time staff positions dedicated to the Reach Out and Read program allows us to solicit book donations for older children, supply them to our pediatricians to get them in front of as many children as possible, and maintain a robust pool of volunteers. Beyond that, Reach Out and Read also has dedicated physical spaces, such as the Reach Out and Read Reading Corner in the pediatric unit, which ensures parents that this is a normal part of the pediatric experience. We have diverse populations for whom too much intervention causes concern for various reasons—ranging from citizenship status to bad experiences in the past.”

This hospital-wide approach extends into the Reach Out and Read program. Serving children from different ethnic and racial backgrounds, the program scales for both the volume of patients and the language diversity of its families. Today, they offer books in multiple languages and dialects to their families. They engage them in the variety of resources that exist in the hospital but also in the community. They seek to meet families where they are, all in the name of Reach Out and Read. And all in the name of strengthening the relationship between families and Reach Out and Read and all towards promoting and growing early relational health. Aristy and her team understand that remaining agile, being responsive to their patient population and centering the work within the larger community is part of how Reach Out and Read must play out in a global city like New York.

To meet the needs of the families we serve, we must have an eye on what is happening outside of the clinic. The Children of Bellevue program is a model for how we can prioritize the health of all children, especially those from marginalized and underserved communities. By prioritizing their needs, we are prioritizing the entire community — when children are set up to grow into happy, healthy, and successful adults, we all thrive!

The Next Chapter

As we move into the next chapter of our work, Reach Out and Read strives to serve as an essential public health intervention for all children across the country. Our deep dedication to early relational health and our continued commitment to creating equitable access will ensure that millions of children experience our model in a trusted, caring and equity-centered environment.

On the Road

In my first 60 days, I have enjoyed meeting many of you and learning more about Reach Out and Readduring my visits in person in New York City, Boston, New Jersey, Georgia, Madison, and virtually in South Carolina, Colorado, Alabama, Washington, and Texas to name a few. Although sites and states vary, the dedication to serving children and families is at the core of our work. For example, I have learned about efforts at federally qualified health centers to ensure equitable access to our model for the children who need it most. In addition, I have seen firsthand the impact of COVID on children and families in our clinics. And it is encouraging to gain a greater understanding of the work in statehouses across the country to increase public investment in Reach Out and Read and ensure that our government partners are working with us to advance our shared goal of strengthening the earliest development of children in their state.  

The Proven Success of Reach Out and Read

My background in public health, combined with the proven success of the Reach Out and Read model, will serve as a strong foundation for our Next Chapter. We will focus our work on strengthening early relational health for all children and families as we solidify ourselves as an essential public health intervention for all children across the country. 

The Next Chapter’s focus will include:

  • Update/enhance our training model for clinicians to incorporate public health framework
  • Build cross-sector connections with pediatric primary care sites and local communities
  • Bring the voice of parents and families to the forefront to ensure equitable access to all and ensure we do this work from an equity lens throughout the country 
  • Continued emphasis on the importance of foundational relationships in early relational health and the future of our children

I am excited to be on this journey with the amazing team that is Reach Out and Read and hope you join us in this critical work. More to come as I launch this blog to share the lessons learned and connections made along the way.

May 17, 2022

Marty Martinez Joins the Reach Out and Read Podcast

We’re pleased to introduce Reach Out and Read’s new Chief Executive Officer, Marty Martinez! He joins the #RORPodcast to share the personal and professional journey that led him to us, and what he’s looking forward to in his new position.


Click here to listen.

“I am excited to join Reach Out and Read in the next chapter of the story of this amazing organization. I am looking forward to working with the committed staff, board members, affiliate leaders, volunteers and supporters as we continue to lead our efforts to strengthen healthy child development and build stronger communities across the country. I am passionate about the work Reach Out and Read is doing to create even stronger relationships between clinicians, parents and their children through the power of reading together and literacy. For me, the cornerstone of building healthier communities is through building stronger relationships, and Reach Out and Read is at the core of that work. I look forward to getting started to help lead the path forward with this amazing team.”

Marty Martinez

Contact Us

For all media inquiries please contact National Senior Director of External Affairs
Lori Brooks



To read full press release, click here.

“Marty’s experience in public health melded with his service mindset makes him a fantastic choice to lead us in our mission to ensure that families nationally feel confident, capable, and comfortable sharing books with their young children.”

Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, Chair, Board of Directors