March 3, 2010
Elizabeth Klipp, 404-413-1356
L-R: Georgia State University president Mark Becker, Robin Ferst, founder and president of the Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy, Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and member of Rotary of Atlanta Club.
Together, the executives raised nearly $7,000 that will provide quality, age-appropriate books each month to almost 200 children, up to the age of five.
Having received the most votes for his reading video, Becker was declared the "Favorite Reader" by the Ferst Foundation. He was awarded the foundation's inaugural "For the Love of Reading Award" at the Downtown Rotary Club of Atlanta meeting on Monday.
Becker said he was honored by the award, but stressed the emphasis on reading to children must continue.
"Childhood literacy is important in the creation of language skills, concepts and good habits," Becker said. "Start early and do it often."
Becker read the book, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," to preschool children at the Lanette S. Suttles Child Development Center on the GSU Campus. Eight additional executives, including presidents of the University of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology, were videotaped reading a favorite book to groups of children.
Colleagues, students, alumni, clients, employees and friends were encouraged to vote for their favorite executive reader on the Ferst Foundation's Web site, www.ferstfoundation.org.
The Ferst Foundation began in 1999 in Morgan County, Ga., through the efforts of Robin Ferst, who modeled her program on the Imagination Library initiative begun by musician and philanthropist Dolly Parton in Tennessee.
"It is important to our educational system and our workforce that we lay the foundation for success in school," Ferst said. "Nearly 61 percent of families don't have a single book in their home and we're trying to change that. These executives have helped us illustrate that reading is a critical component in raising the educated workforce that Georgia needs."