¡LEE CONMIGO!: Turning reading into a commitment to the future
EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is a collaboration from Grupo Guayacán, as part of its 25 Days of Giving campaign.
As educators and book lovers, Gianleé Márquez and Juan Carlos Acevedo wanted to instill a love for reading in all Puerto Rican children. That’s why they decided to start gathering with small groups of children during the weekends to read.
In a short time, the space they used became too small, and they began to use different locations for their reading sessions, including outdoor spaces, like the Luis Muñoz Marín Park.
This is how the nonprofit organization ¡Lee Conmigo! was born: an educational and exclusive space to encourage reading among our children.
Quickly enough, however, a global pandemic struck, forcing us all to stay home. They weren’t aware of it yet, but these two Montessori teachers were about to witness a dramatic turn in what, until then, they did simply for the love of reading. The reading sessions moved into virtual rooms, connecting thousands of grateful children and parents through Facebook.
Thus, ¡Lee Conmigo! became an oasis for families who had to keep their little ones at home while dealing with the health emergency we are still struggling with.
The growth of ¡Lee Conmigo! led the teachers to see their project as something larger than what they expected. This led them to Grupo Guayacán, where they opened their eyes to things they had not considered, including visualizing the project as a business entity to recognize its value and make it sustainable.
“Our perspective was transformed. What was most important about our business education, as educators ourselves, was to be able to see the organization as a company,” said Gianleé, who has acknowledged that they had to internalize that being a nonprofit organization does not preclude them from generating income to sustain their operations.
They also understood the importance of connecting with other entrepreneurs and working collaboratively.
“Guayacán helped us connect with other organizations that would not have known we existed. This granted us the opportunity to create that network that is so talked about. It also allows you to meet other people just like you,” said the educator.
Now ¡Lee Conmigo! has a structure, a development plan, and various ways in which its creators fulfill the mission they hold so dear.
“We have resumed in-person sessions but combining them with virtual reading events,” she said.
Meanwhile, they are getting ready to take their next step.
“After the EnterPRize competition, we have started searching for ¡Lee Conmigo!’s home, which will be our main headquarters,” Gianleé said.
Gianleé is convinced that people must support Guayacán’s mission, to support the emerging entrepreneurial community.
“Having that experience opens a world of possibilities and opportunities for many entrepreneurs, since there are few spaces where people can acquire tools to help them achieve their dreams. You leave with much more than what you had when you arrived,” she said.
This is how two teachers who love reading turned a personal and heartfelt mission into a life project that will touch thousands of minds eager to discover the universe of books. To achieve this, they had to learn to “read” what they had in their hands, beyond what they saw in plain sight.
That is why, according to Gianleé, entrepreneurial education represents being able to make a commitment with the future. Supporting the programs that offer this education is supporting that commitment, which is promising and hopeful.