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Business Banking, Business Checking Article

Customer Spotlight: Literacy Now

Literacy Now CEO

The Power of Literacy 
One in six children who are not reading proficiently in third grade do not graduate from high school on time. That’s four times greater than proficient readers, according to a report by the Regional Educational Laboratory Program. The dropout rate rises to nearly one in three for students who spend more than half their life in poverty.  


Meet Literacy Now 
Literacy Now, a Stellar Bank customer, was founded in 2006 with the vision of helping children rise above their circumstances through tutoring, mentoring, and other services to read on grade level. Its mission is simple—to empower children and families through literacy and life skills. No matter one’s circumstances, early literacy sets a strong foundation for a child’s life-long academic and personal development, including improved language skills, enhanced cognitive development, and increased social and emotional well-being.  


The Houston-based nonprofit provides reading readiness and intervention programs, parent engagement, and trained volunteer mentors. Since its founding, Literacy Now has grown from serving one school with 91 students to serving 2,500+ children in kindergarten through third grade in Title I schools across Houston ISD, Aldine ISD, and Sheldon ISD.  


“We have a literacy crisis right here in Houston,” said Jacque Daughtry, CEO of Literacy Now. “Approximately 73% of third graders do not read at grade level. We’re tackling this issue head on by making a real impact on the lives of students across Houston.” 


Literacy Now recently kicked off its fourth-annual Houston Reads Day event. Houston Reads Day is a dedicated day for Houstonians to come together to read to students, support Literacy Now’s programs, and raise awareness about the long-term impacts of illiteracy in Houston. This year’s event encompassed 400 readers reading to 14,000 students in 43 campuses in the Greater Houston area.  


We recently sat down with Jacque Daughtry, CEO of Literacy Now, to learn more about the pivotal role banking plays in the organization.  


More Than a Customer 
Literacy Now counts on Stellar Bank to supply resources and expertise to support them in their business financial management. 


“We’ve been with Stellar Bank for more than 14 years,” said Daughtry. “Throughout this time, we’ve built a strong relationship with our bankers. We’ve had Stellar employees join our weekly Lunch Bunch mentoring program, sponsor our luncheon, volunteer for Houston Reads Day, and even spearhead a very successful book drive last year.” 


“As a nonprofit, relationships are everything to us,” continues Daughtry. “We recently honored Stellar at our fall gala to thank them for all their years of partnership and support.” 


Overcoming Challenges 
Throughout the years, Literacy Now has had to weather many ups and downs. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Stellar Bank (formerly Allegiance) helped Literacy Now apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) so it could continue paying its 41 employees.  

“The fact that we already had a close relationship with our bank was an amazing blessing,” said Daughtry. “We went on to apply for and receive two rounds of PPP loans (that were both forgiven). Stellar Bank helped us navigate the entire process and answer all our questions. They really went above and beyond.” 


Despite unforeseen challenges, Literacy Now is in talks to expand its reach to five additional school districts, including public charters.  


“We empower parents to advocate for their child,” said Daughtry. “But Stellar Bank advocates for us.” 


Stellar Bank is dedicated to responsive community banking for our customers. See what sets us apart. Visit www.stellar.bank or contact a Stellar banker today at 713-499-1800 to learn how we can support your financial goals.  

 

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