SC Johnson Press Room
Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Community that Reads Together Stays Together: Local Community Promotes Literacy with One Million Book Challenge

Teen Pop-star Jasmine Villegas and Racine Reads: Dream Big! Celebrate Program Culmination and Announce Winners of School Library Makeovers

RACINE, Wis., (May 10, 2012) – A recent study reported that the average elementary school student read 40 books* each school year, yet only 34 percent of students are deemed “proficient” in their reading level**. Local communities across the country are coming together to improve these statistics, and the city of Racine, Wis. led the charge by challenging its 10,000 local elementary school students to read one million books during the school year – an average of 100 books per child. Students rose to the challenge, by more than quadrupling the national average, by reading 180 books per student and 1.8 million books in total. 

“At the beginning of the school year, we came together with educators and community partners and challenged the students of Racine to read one million books over the course of the academic year in a program called Racine Reads: Dream Big!,” said John Dickert, Mayor of Racine. “Community, parents and teachers rallied around this program, and students hit that goal in just 18 weeks. The momentum and enthusiasm has continued all year – the kids nearly doubled the program goal; I’m amazed and inspired by each of them.”

Today prize-winning classrooms and schools got the thrill of a lifetime. At a special community event, Racine Mayor John Dickert, Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson, who sponsored the program, and teen pop-star Jasmine Villegas, who most recently opened for Justin Bieber, celebrated the students’ accomplishments. They, along with Racine County Executive Jim Ladwig and the Racine Reads partners, were on hand to award the $100,000 grand prize library makeover to Wadewitz Elementary School and also officially declare it “Racine Reads: Dream Big! Day.”

“Today’s event was about celebrating accomplishments, and the children radiated excitement and pride,” said Fisk Johnson, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson. “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.”

To further reward students for their participation and engagement, Racine Reads: Dream Big! announced two additional prizes to the runners-up. Trinity Lutheran and Mount Pleasant Renaissance were surprised when they each received $25,000, sponsored by SC Johnson, to update their school libraries. Individual classroom prizes were also given to Roosevelt, John Paul II Academy, and Jerstad-Agerholm Elementary, who received iPads, Kindles and gift cards, respectively. 

The Numbers Tell the Tale
Response to Racine Reads: Dream Big! has been overwhelming; highlights include:

  • Number of classrooms that participated: 461
  • Number of students that participated: 10,008
  • More than 85% of classrooms in Racine participated in the program
  • All 36 Racine private, parochial and public schools participated in the program
  • Average books read per student: 180
  • More than 8,900 books 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
  • More than 125 million pages read***
  • More than 10,000 books collected and donated to Racine Cops ‘N Kids Reading Center
  • Circulation numbers for children’s material at the Racine Public Library went up by nearly 25 percent in the first quarter of 2012
  • 2,000 pizzas given out at pizza parties to celebrate milestones (that’s 16,000 slices!)
  • More than 650 stops by the city’s bookmobile that was wrapped with a special Racine Reads message including the official “book-o-meter” that tracked the community’s overall progress

About Racine Reads: Dream Big!
Racine Reads: Dream Big! was developed as a holistic approach to literacy advancement. Children in the community were surrounded by reading in all aspects of their lives, from the classroom where teachers and principals were 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, students were given rewards, like pizza parties, throughout the program. 

The program reached more than 10,000 elementary school students in nearly 500 public, private and parochial classrooms across Racine. The Racine Reads: Dream Big! program is sponsored by SC Johnson and is 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.
For more information on Racine Reads: Dream Big! visit or the program’s Facebook page.

The mission of the Racine Public Library Foundation is to support the future well-being of the Racine Public Library. The Foundation has a long-term vision of creating an endowment that will generate sufficient income to support library projects and services. The purpose of the Racine Public Library Foundation is to make citizens aware of how to donate funds and make bequests. The Foundation also may apply for grants.

SC Johnson is a family-owned and managed business dedicated to innovative, high-quality products, excellence in the workplace and a long-term commitment to the environment and the communities in which it operates. Based in the USA, the company is one of the world's leading manufacturers of household cleaning products and products for home storage, air care, pest control and shoe care. It markets such well-known brands as GLADE®, KIWI®, OFF!®, PLEDGE®, RAID®, SCRUBBING BUBBLES®, SHOUT®, WINDEX® and ZIPLOC® in the U.S. and beyond, with brands marketed outside the U.S. including AUTAN®, TANA®, BAMA®, BAYGON®, BRISE®, KABIKILLER®, KLEAR®, MR. MUSCLE®, and RIDSECT®. The 126-year-old company, that generates $9 billion in sales, employs nearly 13,000 people globally and sells products in virtually every country around the world.

Located in Southeastern Wisconsin on Lake Michigan and along the Root River, Racine lies right in the heart of the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor.  Founded in 1834 and incorporated 14 years later, Racine acted as an important hub for industrial growth for decades.  The City is home to approximately 80,000 residents, making it the 5th largest city in Wisconsin.  Our community is as diverse as our story, with companies like SC Johnson, Twin Disc and Modine, Racine has a deep history in the business and manufacturing community.  Racine is also the home of many buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, sculptures by Carl Milles and the Racine Art Museum (RAM), which has one of the most significant collections of contemporary craft in North America.  Our beach is one of the best in the world and is continuously recognized for the work done and the quality of our water.  Most recently the U.S. Conference of Mayors recognized Racine as having the best drinking water in the country.

The primary objective of Cops ‘N Kids is to improve the reading skills of at-risk children by introducing them to the adventure and creativity that is received from reading. The center is intended to assist children in their exploration while guiding them toward reading skills development and subsequently how to apply the acquired skills to other academic and personal pursuits.

Family Literacy of Racine is a social service/education non-profit providing multiple programs/services for City of Racine families. Its mission is: “Investing in Family and Community: Read, Lead, Learn, Succeed!” Its family literacy program provides English as a 2nd Language classes, Pre-GED, and GED classes for adults; afterschool programming for children 6-14, and a preschool for children 0-6. Through the Family Smart/Kid Friendly Collaboration, home visitation/parenting education are available to at-risk families, as well as parent education classes to high risk families. A third program, Girls Inc., provides empowerment classes to girls 6-18 years old, through afterschool programming at five RUSD grade schools and two middle schools. Family Literacy’s goal is to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty through comprehensive, integrated family education services.

Girls Incorporated is a national non-profit youth organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold. With roots dating to 1864, Girls Inc. has provided vital educational programs to millions of American girls, particularly those in high-risk, under-served areas. Today, innovative programs help girls confront subtle societal messages about their value and potential, and prepare them to lead successful, independent and fulfilling lives.

The Racine Literacy Council is a volunteer-based organization that provides adult literacy programs in Racine County and works to bring awareness to the community about the importance and impact of literacy. Their primary focus is working with adults who want to learn English as a second language and/or to improve literacy skills.

With approximately 21,000 students, Racine Unified School District (RUSD) is the fourth largest school district in the state of Wisconsin. RUSD has 21 elementary schools including three magnet elementary schools, seven middle schools including two magnet and one charter middle school, and six high schools including one magnet and one charter high school. RUSD provides students rigorous academics and strong programming in the fine arts, foreign language, school-to-career, physical education, technology and other electives. The District also offers virtual learning opportunities for middle and high school students. The District is proud of the success that it creates for all of the students they serve, and proud of its mission to educate every student to succeed.


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*Kinney, J., Coleman, D., Gilmore, B., Gutman, D., Hopkins, E., Kirk, T., Pilkey, D., Stotsky, S. (2012) What Kids Are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools. Accelerated Reader company Renaissance Learning (2010-2011 school year). 

**U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), various years, 1992–2011 Reading Assessments.

***Estimated based off of the average pages in books for elementary age students:



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