This Week at READ USA

Peace In The Pages

Announcing: 2024 Peace in the Pages in Honor of Roseann Duran

  • Read USA Inc.
  • April 17 2024


Today, READ USA is sharing one of the most momentous announcements in the history of our organization.

Our annual luncheon, taking place on Oct. 2, 2024, is officially named the 2024 Peace in the Pages in Honor of Roseann Duran, one of many recognitions for Roseann’s transformational, $565,000 legacy gift to READ USA – the single largest one-time gift in READ USA’s history.

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Last year, Roseann Duran sponsored the READ USA Book Fair at Mayport Elementary, where she is pictured here (center) with CEO Dr. Rob Kelly and READ USA Board Member Marla Buchanan (right).

“Roseann’s extraordinary generosity will have a far-reaching impact on literacy and community empowerment, significantly bolstering our efforts to provide high-interest books and high-quality teaching resources to children, teens, and teachers,” said Dr. Rob Kelly, READ USA CEO. “Roseann was a passionate supporter of literacy and READ USA for many years, and we remain emboldened by her steadfast belief in our mission. We are eternally grateful for her investment in the students we serve who ultimately benefit from her extraordinary gift.”

Roseann, who passed away earlier this year, leaves behind an indelible legacy on Northeast Florida through her philanthropy, volunteerism, and professional accomplishments that have inspired and supported thousands of people across all walks of life. Her highly successful career traversed the finance and marketing industries, throughout all of which Duran remained grounded in supporting the people within her organizations and across Northeast Florida’s many communities. A natural leader, she was tenacious about community involvement, both professionally and personally, and gave extensively of her time, talent, and treasure to numerous organizations in Jacksonville, which she called home since 1973. Her full obituary is accessible here.

“Roseann radiated kindness, empathy, peace, freedom, leadership, and success – the very values that underscore the meaning and purpose behind our Peace in the Pages event and all that we do at READ USA,” said Ellen Wiss, READ USA co-founder and board chair. “To know Roseann and feel her zest for life was an immense blessing, and she will be remembered as someone who has had a transformational impact on countless lives in Northeast Florida for years to come.”

In addition to the 2024 Peace in the Pages in Honor of Roseann Duran, READ USA has created additional acknowledgments in her name, with more to be announced throughout the year:

The Duran Data Portal

Recognized in perpetuity, the READ USA Duran Data Portal is a critical resource in measuring and demonstrating the impact and results of our programming for Duval County Public Schools (DCPS), third-party evaluators, grantmaking organizations, and others. The Duran Data Portal specifically supports our Literacy Tutoring program that trains and pays teens to provide daily, intensive, one-to-one literacy tutoring to DCPS elementary students.

2024 Jeremy’s Journey Series Dedication

The fictional storyteller and namesake of our Jeremy’s Journey through Jacksonville book series (more below about this in today’s newsletter!), published monthly by READ USA, visits local leaders in Northeast Florida to tell their stories and the importance of literacy in their lives and accomplishments. Each 2024 volume is dedicated in memory and honor of Roseann Duran. The full dedication and a list of volumes are available here.

The READ USA team is immensely grateful for Roseann and looks forward to sharing more about Roseann’s unparalleled legacy and generosity in the future.

Save the Date: 2024 Peace in the Pages in Honor of Roseann Duran

Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2024

11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

EverBank Stadium

For more about the Peace in the Pages event, visit READ USA’s website.

2024 Peace in the Pages Award Honorees and Honorary Co-Chairs

Today, READ USA is also announcing our 2024 Peace in the Pages in Honor of Roseann Duran Award Honorees and Honorary Co-Chairs!

Every year, READ USA recognizes seven local leaders for their commitment to literacy for all and to closing the literacy gap in Duval County. As with all of our Peace in the Pages honorees, this year’s honorees are truly exceptional individuals in our community who not only credited literacy with their success, but who have made significant strides to uplift literacy and provide access to books and literacy resources in Northeast Florida. They also serve as mentors and inspirational leaders to many others in our community.

Please join us in congratulating the following reader leaders:

  • READ to Lead Award: Patricia McElroy, President of the VyStar Foundation and Senior Vice President of VyStar Credit Union
  • READ to Succeed Award: Caleb Johnson, Linebacker, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • READ to be Free Award: Ronnie Gadio, READ USA Tutor
  • READ to Heal Award: Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D., George W. and Kathleen I. Gibbs Director and CEO, Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
  • READ to Remember Award: Sherry Magill, Ph.D., Retired President, Jessie Ball duPont Fund
  • Marjorie Broward Memorial Scholarship Award: Katie Adkins, Principal, Rutledge H. Pearson Elementary
  • Mark Landen Memorial Award for Democracy through Journalism: Tenikka Hughes, Anchor, Action News Jax

We look forward to sharing more about our award honorees leading up to our 2024 Peace in the Pages in Honor of Roseann Duran event in October!

Introducing Our Honorary Co-Chairs

For our 2024 event, READ USA is thrilled to announce our Honorary Co-Chairs who are graciously volunteering their time to lead our Host Committee in introducing new sponsors, supporters, and friends to READ USA:


Whitney Meyer_2022 PITP_largeWhitney Meyer, Senior Vice President and Chief Community Impact Officer, Jacksonville Jaguars

Whitney Meyer served as our emcee for our 2022 Peace in the Pages event and is a strong advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion – values that READ USA also embraces in all of our programming – not only at the Jaguars, but throughout our entire community. We are very grateful for her ongoing support of READ USA and our 2024 program! Read more about Whitney here.



ADS_0898Brian Wolfburg, President and CEO, VyStar Credit Union

Brian Wolfburg has been a long-time supporter and advocate for READ USA and literacy in our community and has led VyStar Credit Union to become a philanthropic powerhouse in the many communities it serves, particularly in our own back yard. Many thanks to Brian for lending his voice and time to READ USA! Read more about Brian here and you can watch a READ USA video featuring his family here.


Meet Jeremy’s Newest Friend: Tenikka Hughes of Action News Jax!

Jeremy, our fictional storyteller and namesake of our Jeremy’s Journey book series, recently met in-person someone who he has watched on TV ever since he can remember: Action News Jax Anchor Tenikka Hughes!

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Just like Jeremy, Tenikka understood the importance of representation from a very young age. When she was six years old, she was already showing signs of becoming a TV news anchor. Tenikka would watch the evening news and then emulate the news reporters with a cassette recorder and hairbrush as a microphone, producing her very own newscast in her living room with her brother, Darryl.

“I loved watching the news ladies on TV as a little girl, particularly the Black news ladies,” she told Jeremy for her book. “I’m grateful that I got to see women who looked like me, and more than anything, I’m grateful that I’ve been allowed to continue to push the needle forward with representation.”

Tenikka JJ Books Photos 1_large Tenikka JJ Books Photos 2_large

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During her 20 years as a broadcast journalist across several markets before coming to Jacksonville, the Whitakers, North Carolina-native has earned three Emmy Awards and numerous other professional accolades. She now uses her platform to promote youth literacy and education. In fact, in 2018, she launched Tenikka’s Books for Kids, an annual book drive donation that provides free books to local children to encourage summer reading. Last year alone she collected 8,000+ books.

Tenikka also shared with Jeremy, “I love to see the team effort at READ USA around supporting literacy for our children… I’m a big supporter of READ USA’s mission and feel honored to be part of it!”

Jeremy and the READ USA team are so grateful you are, too, Tenikka! Thank you for allowing us to share your inspirational journey with Jacksonville!

Tenikka’s Jeremy’s Journey book is now available to order for $20 per copy. Click here to place your order and coordinate pickup with READ USA.


Last Chance to Apply for Summer Leadership Academy

This Friday is the last day to apply for READ USA’s inaugural Summer Leadership Academy!

#ICYMI, the READ USA Summer Leadership Academy is all about equipping, enlightening, and engaging teens and young adults in how to make informed decisions about their future – all while earning a $15/hour paycheck!

During a six-week summer course that runs June 3 – July 11, our teen tutors will visit leaders at numerous, cross-sector organizations, businesses, and civic groups who will provide a detailed, behind-the-scenes look at how these organizations operate, the path(s) that led to their current roles, and how STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) comes to life in their organizations.

We are accepting applications by this Friday, April 19 from both current and future tutors with specific requirements:

PDF_largeIf a community organization is interested in becoming a partner of the READ USA Summer Leadership Academy, please contact Director of Workforce Development Ashlea Jones at

Apply Today

Give & Get, All in One Place

Where can you both give and receive all in one place? Well, as a volunteer at a READ USA Book Fair you certainly can!

BookFair_Volunteers_6_large  Parkwood Heights_3_large

The READ USA Book Fairs will resume on April 29th and run through May 24th, providing free books to all DCPS elementary school students across the district, and it is the perfect opportunity to have fun while providing essential support to READ USA and the elementary schools.

Volunteers are the backbone support to our staff and the schools in running these book fairs, fulfilling essential tasks that include:

  • Guiding young students through the book fair, helping them select books that interest them, and helping write their names in their brand-new books! This is THE most fun job!
  • Supporting teachers and READ USA staff with keeping students and books organized during the Book Fair.
  • Book Fair set-up and pack-up.

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If there is a school in your neighborhood where you’d like to volunteer, or a specific date that works best for your schedule, let us know.  

Book Fair Dates (Locations to be released soon)

  • April 29th – May 3rd
  • May 6th – May 10th
  • May 13th – May 17th
  • May 20th – May 24th

We hope you will join us at an upcoming Book Fair!

Volunteer at a Book Fair!

Children’s Book: The Power of One: Every Act of Kindness Counts by Trudy Ludwig

Illustrated by Mike CuratoPowerofone_large

This week is National Volunteer Week. The purpose is to recognize the incredible people who improve our communities through volunteering.

The Power of One: Every Act of Kindness Counts is a wonderful introduction to volunteering for children. It shows how just one small act of kindness can change the world.

Ludwig writes, “Sometimes One can feel like a small and lonely number. But don’t let this little number fool you. One is a lot bigger and more powerful than you think.” When one child reaches out in friendship to a classmate who seems to be lonely, she begins a chain reaction on kindness that ripples throughout her school and her community. One kind act creates another, small good deeds make way for bigger ones, and eventually the whole neighborhood comes together to build something much greater than the sum of its parts.

Trudy Ludwig and Mike Curato take us on a journey through the various ways that One can make an impact. From one drop of rain starting a puddle, one flower blooming in a run-down park, and one apology to heal past hurts, we see both a beautiful park and a close-knit community grow. As Trudy Ludwig says in the final line of the book, “Acts and words of kindness DO count, and it all starts with ONE.”

Also be sure to read Ludwig’s note of “Planting Seeds of Kindness in Your Community.”

Submitted by Kathi Hart, READ USA Content Specialist

Parent Education Corner: Supporting the Development of Children’s Oral Language

Oral language is sometimes called spoken language. It includes speaking and listening and is the way people communicate with each other. Children build their oral language skills through having conversations and following oral directions.

A great way to expand your child’s oral language skills is by talking while you read. When you read together, talk with your child about the book. Talking develops your child’s vocabulary and understanding of the book.

Choose a book with detailed pictures and of interest to your child. First, read the entire book to your child. Next, read the book again, stopping as you read to have a conversation.

  1. Prompt your child to say something about the book by asking a question. Ask wh questions (Who? What? When? Where? Why?).
    ➡️Point to something in the picture, for example, a dog. “What is that?”
  2. Evaluate your child’s response.
    ➡️ “That’s right! That’s a dog.”
  3. Expand on your child’s response by rephrasing and adding information to it.
    ➡️ “That’s a small black and white dog! We saw a black and white dog at the park yesterday.”
  4. Repeat or revisit the prompt you started with, encouraging your child to use the new information you provided.
    ➡️ “Can you say small black and white dog?” Each time the book is reread, the expanded vocabulary words are verbalized again.

Children whose parents read in a conversational way have better oral language skills and are more likely to be exposed to new words. Remember, reading together should be fun! Use these activities when it fits and when your child is engaged with the story.

Submitted by Kathi Hart, READ USA Content Specialist

Do you have any questions or ideas for the Parent Education Corner? Anything you’d like to learn? Let us know here!