Blog | halo effect
- Posted on 01/09/2014 by Rachel1016
Growing up with a younger brother who struggled with dyslexia, Brette recognized from a young age that literacy is not something to be taken for granted. Knowing just how important literacy is for success, it broke her heart to know that others in her community often lacked the resources and support to make reading a part of their lives.
In 2009, Brette became more involved in addressing her community's need to improve literacy and created Reading Aces, an afterschool reading program for Houston's at-risk elementary school students. Working with her connections across the Houston tennis community, she arranged for her first sessions to take place with the kids attending a free tennis clinic offered by the Tennis Association. Brette and ten of her friends gathered books and read to the clinic participants (approximately ten 10-12 year old students) on a weekly basis. Recognizing the difference she and her team of volunteers could make, she knew she needed to expand this important effort.
What started off as 10 teens reading to a small group of kids at one location is now a program with over 80 teen volunteers that operate across nine locations throughout the city of Houston serving hundreds of underprivileged kids. These kids often joined Reading Aces thinking reading was not for them- they didn't have regular access to books or the support of a parent at home to read to them and encourage them. Now, so many of these young children not only have a new found enthusiasm for reading, but they have greatly improved their literacy and comprehension skills, giving them a greater chance for success both as students and in life.
Since Brette's first year of college, Reading Aces has opened two new Houston sites and has expanded to their first Austin location. The non-profit group Books Between Kids has partnered up with Reading Aces and has donated over 300 books. Due to this generous donation, Reading Aces was able to award these books to its participants at the end of the year. Reading Aces has also secured a strategic corporate sponsor called Cram Crew, an academic test-prep service, allowing access to new volunteers. This sponsorship has positioned Reading Aces to expand nationwide.
Check out our exclusive interview with Brette here!
- Posted on 01/09/2014 by Rachel1016
Get ready to feel the power of the HALO Effect!
In November, we asked you to help us spread the HALO do-gooding spirit by nominating inspiring teens whose service Help And Lead Others. As our promise to keep the HALO Effect going all year long, we're highlighting the amazing work of one of these nominees each month. And with the new year, we congratulate our first outstanding honoree. Meet Brette Machiorlette, the founder of Reading Aces!
We caught up with Brette to learn more about her organization and how she's making literacy an achievable goal for at-risk youth. Not only are her words inspiring, but her story reminds us of the exceptional power of reading, teamwork, and compassion. Read her full bio here, and check out our exclusive Q&A below!
Congratulations on your HALO Effect honors! Tell us about your organization, Reading Aces. How did you come up with the idea? And how did you choose the name for it?
I initially began Reading Aces as an IB [International Baccalaureate Program] high school requirement in Houston. As sophomores, we are required to complete a "Personal Project" which can basically be about anything you want to learn or achieve. For my project, I created Reading Aces. An ace describes a master, or champion. In tennis, an "ace" is a winning serve that is untouched by the opponent. It signifies hard work and success — entities we hoped to instill in our elementary participants.
Early education is fundamental to children's success, and unfortunately, many do not grow up in supportive environments or have access to early literacy tools. Whether young or old, seeing children deprived of the access to learning and reading was deeply unsettling. These collective experiences motivated me to grow and expand Reading Aces.
How do the after-school reading sessions work? Do volunteers work with kids in groups? Or is it more of a one-on-one program?
Every week, our volunteers bring giant bags of children's books to our partner sites. Volunteers are paired with 1-3 children and after agreeing upon a book, the small groups settle down and read orally. Volunteers and participants take turns reading aloud, while groups with younger readers are asked to sound out simple, "sight words."
We encourage our volunteers to frequently ask questions to ensure attentiveness and engagement. Ideally, each site hopes to achieve a one-to-one reader-to-volunteer ratio. The beauty of Reading Aces is in its simplicity. Limited training is needed and the magic of an engaging picture book takes both the volunteers and children to far away places.
What do you find most rewarding about mentoring young students?
There is nothing more rewarding than working with children. Their smiles are infectious and their stories are priceless. Our volunteers foster positive relationships that inspire and motivate these children to always do their best. What most do not realize is the lasting impact these children make on the volunteers.
As a HALO Effect honoree, your organization will receive $5,000. How will you use this reward to benefit your efforts?
Through t-shirt sales and generous donations, we have been able to finance books and snacks; however, the $5,000 donation would dramatically impact our potential expansion channels. Without marketing dollars, it is very hard to solicit new sites and expand our reach. I would also love more money for books, so that we can more frequently give our participants books to enhance their home libraries. In addition, with take-home books to read, we can help prevent the infamous "summer-slide."
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a charitable organization of his or her own?
The key to any successful organization is teamwork. Reading Aces would be nothing without the support of volunteers, sponsors, and friends. Do not be afraid to ask for help. With collaboration, camaraderie, and a common purpose driving a group's efforts, the impossible can be achieved. Take advantage of any opportunity to promote your organization, whether that be through social media, school announcements, or conversations among peers and adults. The more people that know your goal means that more people are likely to support it and help it thrive. An African adage perfectly sums it up: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
Do you know any truly inspiring teens who are making an impact like Brette? Nominate them here!
- Posted on 11/17/2013 by Rachel1016
Hey TeenNick do-gooders, thanks for joining us at the 2013 HALO Awards! We had a great time hanging with all of you and our amazing celebs as we honored the real stars of the evening: teens who Help And Lead Others. We're so inspired by how many young people are committed to doing good that we want to keep the HALO Effect going all year long.
Starting in January, each month TeenNick will recognize a HALO honoree by giving him or her a $5,000 grant to a charitable organization of their choice. That's right, you guys HALO all year long, and now: so do we.
- Posted on 10/29/2011 by Lisa
Inspired by the TeenNick HALO Awards, the HALO Effect is a way for visitors to TeenNick.com to help others. Complete "Quests" on this site, and you'll earn points that you can trade in for a donation to DonorsChoose.org.
DonorsChoose.org is a site where school teachers from all over the United States post requests for supplies they need (like scientific equipment, journals for a writing class, or musical instruments for the school band). If you earn enough HALO Effect coins, you'll be able to make a $5 donation to any project you choose.
It's an awesome way to support education, and it's easy, too. All you have to do is use this site! Check out the blue bar at the top of this page to get started.
The 2011 TeenNick HALO Awards honorees, about to walk the orange carpet -- and all the way on the right, behind Kyle's shoulder, that's Charlotte Arnold from Degrassi! :)