This Week at READ USA

Peace In The Pages

Tenikka Hughes, 2024 READ USA Mark Landen Memorial Award for Democracy through Journalism Honoree

  • Read USA Inc.
  • May 15 2024


Action News Jax Anchor Tenikka Hughes is the 2024 READ USA Mark Landen Memorial Award for Democracy through Journalism Honoree! The Mark Landen Memorial Award recognizes a local media personality for moving the needle on equity and democracy through journalistic work.


For nearly a decade, Tenikka has co-anchored Action News Jax’s evening newscasts, reporting on current events and providing information that impacts the lives of viewers and their families. A three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist, Tenikka has been a broadcast journalist for 20 years across several markets before coming to Jacksonville in 2014, including Charlotte, North Carolina; Memphis, Tennessee; and Macon, Georgia.

When Tenikka was six years old and growing up in Whitakers, North Carolina, she was already showing signs of wanting to become 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. Having already learned to read at the age of three, Tenikka would line up her stuffed animals on the couch and read JET magazine to her ‘audience.’

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“I loved watching the news ladies on TV as a little girl, particularly the Black news ladies,” she told Jeremy, READ USA’s fictional namesake storyteller of the Jeremy’s Journey book series. “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.”

Having grown up with a large extended family that instilled in her a passion for service and community, Tenikka is focused on positively impacting the lives of children and promoting youth literacy. In 2018, she launched Tenikka’s Books for Kids, an annual book drive donation supported by Action News Jax that provides free books to local children to encourage summer reading through the Jacksonville Public Library. To date, she has collected nearly 30,000 books and last year alone she collected 8,000+ books.

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“I am who I am through literacy,” Tenikka also told Jeremy. “I grew up in a single-parent home in a little bitty town with not much money. My siblings and I grew up with three intentional women who provided love, encouragement, and taught us the value of education. Literacy brought me to where I am today.”

As to her recognition as the 2024 Mark Landen Memorial Award for Democracy through Journalism Honoree, “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.”

Mark your calendars for the 2024 Peace in the Pages in Honor of Roseann Duran event on Oct. 2 at EverBank Stadium when Tenikka and our other award honorees will be recognized!

You can also order a copy of Tenikka’s Jeremy’s Journey book for $20/copy here.

Stay tuned for more Peace in the Pages award honoree features in the coming weeks!

READ USA’s Chief Programs Officer Featured in Florida Times-Union

Our very own Chief Programs Officer Tabetha Cox was featured in the Florida Times-Union on Mother’s Day this past Sunday!

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Columnist Mark Woods – who was last year’s 2023 Peace in the Pages Presented by David and Monique Miller Mark Landen Memorial Award for Democracy through Journalism Honoree – wrote a beautiful column about Tabetha’s life and family:

READ IT HERE: Mark Woods: For Mother's Day, the story of a mother of 10, a bookmark and “well-loved” books

Mark shared how the mother of 10 grew up in California, where happy memories were not necessarily abundant, to eventually serving a seven-year stint in the U.S. Navy before becoming a teacher. But not just any teacher did she become; Tabetha was an exceptional teacher who was named Teacher of the Year at Sadie T. Tillis Elementary School in 2018 and was one of five finalists for Duval County’s Teacher of the Year. She held several roles in the school system before joining READ USA in 2021 and becoming Chief Programs Officer earlier this year.


She told Mark, “It was like my dream. You’re offering me a job where I get to work with books and children and help them experience the love of literacy and see what doors that opens for them? … I felt like I was stepping into Mrs. Brodie’s [her former teacher] shoes.”

We are so proud of Tabetha for all that she does to serve our youth in her personal life and through READ USA – and for her courage in sharing her story with the world! You contribute so much to our mission, Tabetha, and we are honored to have you as part of the READ USA family.

You can read Tabetha’s full bio on the READ USA website here.

Four Million Steps for READ USA, You Say?!

READ USA received a wonderfully fun and first-of-its-kind surprise recently!

Every year during tax season, our accounting firm, Financial Solution Advisors (FSA) in Jacksonville, hosts a “step challenge” among employees. Staff members assemble in teams and compete to see which team takes the greatest number of steps between early January and Tax Day on April 15. The top three teams whose members collectively take the most steps get to select a local nonprofit to receive a donation from FSA, and…

READ USA was selected by Team Superman, which won 2nd Place with 4,046,683 total steps! WOW!

Read USA check delivery 5-2024 (According to Stridekick, based on human averages and a steady walking pace, that’s approximately 2,000 miles walked for READ USA!)

The second-place prize was a $500 donation to READ USA, and we are so grateful for Team Superman literally going the extra mile(s) for us! We are celebrating your bragging rights alongside of you!

“We chose READ USA because they’re a Jacksonville nonprofit and we really admire the work they do in the local schools,” shared Andrew Jensen, Team Superman member and Cloud Accounting Advisor at FSA.

As a firm, FSA focuses on business taxes, accounting services, and long-term planning in the middle market business environment, taking an integrated approach to ensure everything works together to achieve its clients’ goals. Read more about FSA here.

Thank you to FSA for embracing local organizations such as ours through such a fun, comradery-filled competition. And congratulations to the USO Jacksonville and Mission House in Jacksonville Beach for winning first- and third-place prizes, respectively!


Congratulations to the 2024 Humanitarian Award Winners

Members of the READ USA team attended the 2024 Humanitarian Awards last week, hosted by OneJax at the Jacksonville Center for the Performing Arts. And what a beautiful evening it was on the St. Johns River!

OneJAx_team_largeCelebrating its 54th anniversary this year, the Humanitarian Awards “honor outstanding individuals who have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to our community.” Each of this year’s honorees were highly deserving of this honor, and we are particularly proud that several honorees this year are also READ USA supporters! Congratulations to Martha Baker, a community trustee; Jeff Edwards, CFO of Beaver Street Fisheries; and Brian Wolfburg, President and CEO of VyStar Credit Union, all of whom have shown steadfast commitment to all people of Jacksonville and particularly to literacy! Congratulations to Bill Bond, a community trustee, for receiving his Silver Medallion as well!

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Our particular congratulations go to Rhianna Scyster, Community Equity & Policy Manager at 904WARD, for receiving the Acosta-Rua Young Professional Award! Rhianna’s husband, Holden, is our very own Data, Assessment & Technology Senior Director, and he was so proud to see his wife receive this well-deserved honor.

“My wife is an amazing advocate for equity and justice and I’m excited that she was recognized for all the hard work she has put into opening pathways for marginalized individuals and communities in Jacksonville,” Holden shared. You can read more about Rhianna on 904WARD’s website here.

Read more about the 2024 Humanitarian Awards Honorees and OneJax here.

One Week Left to Volunteer at READ USA Book Fairs

NOW is the time to help READ USA cross the Book Fair finish line!

Next Friday, May 24th officially wraps up our 2024 Book Fair season, and it’s a perfect opportunity to both give and receive joy – just ask any of our volunteers!

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We also want to give a special shoutout to GATE, Rowe’s, and Winn-Dixie stores for donating bags for the Book Fairs! We very much appreciate your support!

We are seeking volunteers at the following elementary schools for next week:

Monday, May 20

  • Fishweir
  • Fort Caroline
  • Hyde Park
  • Ramona Boulevard
  • Ruth N. Upson
  • Sadie T. Tillis

Tuesday, May 21

  • Kernan Trail
  • Mayport ES
  • Northwestern Legends
  • L. Brown Gifted & Talented Academy
  • West Riverside

Wednesday, May 22

  • Abess Park
  • Hogan-Spring Glen
  • Holiday Hill
  • Southside Estates
  • Windy Hill

Thursday, May 23

  • Bartram Springs
  • GRASP Academy
  • Greenland Pines
  • Highlands ES
  • Westview

Friday, May 24

  • BridgePrep Academy of Duval
  • Brookview
  • Kings Trail

Volunteers help ensure the book fairs run smoothly by:

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

You can sign up to volunteer here. We look forward to seeing you next week!

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Children’s Book: Berry Song by Michaela Goade

Illustrated by Michaela Goade

A Tlingit grandmother takes her young granddaughter to a nearby island for a berry-picking adventure inBerrySong_large the forest. To alert the forest bear and the various types of berries that glow “like little jewels” of their presence, the pair sing a harvest song: “Salmonberry, Cloudberry, Blueberry, Nagoonberry. Huckleberry, Soapberry, Strawberry, Crowberry.” Grandma teaches the girl that “we speak to the land…as the land speaks to us,” and, “we sing, too, so the land knows we are grateful.”

Berry Song opens with a brightly colored spread of berries in their Tlingit and English names and a note about responsible foraging. Beginning its story with a scene awash in Alaskan nature, each page reveals a grandma and her granddaughter harvesting local foods from the ocean and land where they live. Grandma teaches her granddaughter about ancestral songs, gathering wild foods and berries, cooking their harvest, and acknowledging their relationship to the land and their ancestors. The story concludes with the granddaughter, at an older age, teaching her little sister the same lessons of stewardship.

Award-winning author and illustrator, Michaela Goade, shares generously from her Tlingit culture the gorgeous celebration of the land she knows well and the powerful wisdom of elders. Berry Song is a Caldecott Honor Book.

Submitted by Kathi Hart, READ USA Content Specialist

Parent Education Corner: Supporting Young Children as They Begin to Read

It can be so exciting when a child begins to read! Beginning readers are starting to put it all together and are often eager to do it by themselves. As a parent, it’s important to support their efforts in a positive way and help them along the reading path.

Here is information about beginning readers, and a few pointers to keep in mind.

A beginning reader:

  • Can name the letters in the alphabet and can tell you many of the letter sounds.
  • Understands the concept of a “word.”
  • Is beginning to recognize a few words within text or from a list.
  • Is beginning to represent the first and maybe last sound of a word when trying to spell.

When reading with a beginning reader:

  • Model finger-point reading. That means to follow the words with your finger from left to right as you read them. Your beginning reader will do the same thing for a while.
  • Practice patience! Beginning readers may read slowly. Give your child time to decode the words and avoid jumping in too quickly.
  • Encourage attention to letters and sounds. If your child is stuck on a word, prompt them to look at the first letter of the word and make the letter’s sound. Of course, only do this for words that can be sounded out! If the word can’t be sounded out, just supply the word for them.
  • Talk about the story. When your child is finished with a book, be sure to talk about what happened in the story, and maybe re-read favorite parts.
  • Let them know how proud you are! By sharing a book with a child, you’re sharing the joys and excitement of reading.

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!