Social Responsbility

Philanthropy in Action: Racine Reads

Here's an example of a program supported by SC Johnson that's made a positive impact in our hometown community of Racine, Wisconsin.

Racine Reads logoSC Johnson has called Racine, Wisconsin, home for more than 125 years. Since Racine is host to our global headquarters, we continually seek ways to help support the community and its people.

During the 2011/12 school year, SC Johnson joined community partners including the Racine Public Library to announce a unique challenge to the children of Racine: Read one million books during the school year.

Our Chairman and CEO Fisk Johnson explained at the time: “Reading is a critical and basic skill that must be a part of every child’s elementary education. Reading opens the world to children and lays the foundation for future educational success and we want to ignite the community to rally around our children to help them reach this monumental goal.”

About Racine Reads: Dream Big!

Racine Reads reading zone bannerThe idea was that the 10,000 elementary school kids of Racine - in nearly 500 public, private and parochial classrooms - would each read an average of 100 books during the school year.

Sponsored by SC Johnson, the effort was developed as a holistic approach to literacy advancement. Children in the community would be surrounded by reading in all aspects of their lives, from the classroom where teachers and principals would be given program tool kits, to the community as a whole through author visits, live performances and readings, and volunteer opportunities.

To motivate and celebrate milestones, rewards such as pizza parties were planned throughout the program. 

Amazing Results

Racine Reads mascot Booker by the bookmobileThe result far surpassed even the most optimistic expectations. Racine's elementary students rose to the challenge by more than quadrupling the national average of 40 books per year and instead reading about 180 books per student.

Altogether, the kids of Racine read 1.8 million books during the Racine Reads: Dream Big! challenge.

Racine Reads: Dream Big! Stats

•  All 36 Racine private, parochial and public schools participated in the program
•  More than 8,900 books were read per day during the program
•  Racine Reads: Dream Big! donated more than 10,000 books to elementary students and school libraries throughout the program
•  Circulation numbers for children’s material at the Racine Public Library went up by nearly 25% in the first quarter of 2012
•  More than 125 million pages were read

Well-Deserved Rewards

Racine's Wadewitz Elementary School was awarded the $100,000 grand prize library makeover, and in light of the amazing participation by students, two further schools were surprised with rewards. Runners-up Trinity Lutheran and Mount Pleasant Renaissance each received $25,000, Wadewitz school receives their rewardalso sponsored by SC Johnson, to update their school libraries as well.

At a celebratory event in May 2012, kids were treated to a performance by teen pop-star Jasmine Villegas, who recently opened for Justin Bieber, and individual classroom prizes were presented to Roosevelt, John Paul II Academy and Jerstad-Agerholm Elementary schools, which received iPads, Kindles and gift cards, respectively.  

Explained Fisk Johnson, “Today’s event was about celebrating accomplishments, and the children radiated excitement and pride. As a family company and long-standing Racine community member, we are vested in our children’s future and reading is a fundamental part of that. Creative programs like Racine Reads: Dream Big!, targeted at building literacy skills, are a positive example of how students can rise above and exceed expectations.” 

A Community Effort

The Racine Reads: Dream Big! program was sponsored by SC Johnson and was a partnership with the Racine Public Library along with the City of Racine, Racine Elementary Schools, the Racine Civic Centre, Racine Literacy Council, Family Literacy of Racine, Cops ‘N Kids, and Girls Inc.

We believe in making a difference in our communities through volunteerism.

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