programs – enable GLOW staff to identify underserved students,
provide students with mentors and training in financial literacy,
and assist students in navigating the often-intimidating application process for scholarships and colleges.
Once Investment in Success candidates are identified,
members of the local PSAC interview each one. Typically,
several teams of Masons, each composed of two to four members from local lodges, conduct the interviews at a daylong
event. These interviews allow PSAC members to get an in-person impression of each student and to hear his or her story
firsthand. After the interviews, council members pass their
recommendations along to the California Masonic Foundation
Board for final selection.
CONNECTING OPPORTUNITY AND NEED
Back and Yu are two proud Investment in Success scholars.
Back learned about Investment in Success from a high school
counselor. She researched the program online and filled out
an application, which she emailed to a counselor at the GLOW
Foundation who, in turn, helped her submit it to the Foundation.
Although she was identified as a good candidate, Back struggled
with feelings of insecurity.
“I was nervous at first about my interview,” she says. “I didn’t
know who all would be interviewed and I worried that the other
students would be better than I was.” Her older sister drove her
to the interview to provide moral support. But ultimately it was
worth all the anxiety.
In addition to winning the scholarship, she’s become familiar
with the Foundation and the fraternity. “I learned a lot about
Masonry after I applied,” she says. She is particularly enthusiastic about California Masons’ Raising A Reader literacy
partnership (see sidebar, at left), which has helped some of her
nieces and nephews gain reading skills.
Yu came to Investment in Success through a collaboration
between the GLOW Foundation, Mission Graduates – a local
charity sharing similar goals – and her high school. Established
Raising A Reader: The
Good We’ve Done So Far
Today, throughout California, families are having a new
experience: They are sitting together with a book. If they
can read, they are telling the story that is written on the
page. If they can’t, they “read” the photos and create their
own stories. In both cases, these families are building
literacy skills. And, they’re strengthening family bonds.
These experiences are made possible by California
Masons. In 2011, the fraternity entered into a ground-breaking partnership with award-winning literacy and
family engagement leader Raising A Reader (RAR).
RAR’s unique program introduces books to children’s
homes and trains parents, teachers, and local librarians
to help children benefit from the books. It also teaches
parents to use reading as a bonding tool, strengthening
In the first two years of the partnership, California
Masons raised more than $843,000 – enough money to
bring RAR’s program to more than 180 classrooms in
low-performing public schools throughout the state. And,
the program is working. In a survey of families who participated in RAR during the 2012-2013 school year, 83%
reported increases in the number of times they checked
out library materials, instances and duration of household book-sharing, and children reading aloud. Reading
scores have also shown remarkable improvements.
But the fraternity’s hard work isn’t over yet. Our three-year goal is to raise $1.2 million – enough to introduce
RAR to 400 classrooms. And, it’s a gift that will keep
giving: Once purchased, book bags and books last about
five years. This means that each classroom’s supplies
will reach approximately 125 children and their families.
Through our efforts, we are strengthening families, one
book at a time.
In the words of Shari Fox, the former superintendent of
San Jacinto Unified School District who helped introduce RAR in her schools, “Once kids become readers,
the whole world is open to them.”