In the 1990s, founders Joe Blackstone and Jamie Mohn volunteered to be readers for the USC JEP organization. They would read to 1st and 2nd graders in the USC School of Five inner-city elementary schools every week. Very quickly they became aware of the alarming number of students that were reading below grade level. More alarming, was the fact that if a child didn't have a strong reading foundation at an early stage in their education then that student would most likely get lost in “the system” and have an arduous road ahead of them.
Through this volunteer work, Joe and Jamie had the opportunity to witness the impact that took place when these children were given the attention and opportunity to help strengthen their reading skills and bolster their reading confidence. It was then that the seed of becoming part of that impact and change had been planted. In 2011, J3 Foundation was created with initial work being to fund foundations and charities focused on child development. In 2018, J3’s Cozy Reading Club was developed. They created an after school reading program that focuses on elevating the reading skills, reading confidence, reading habits, and increasing book access for 4th-grade students in high needs areas. Joe and Jamie have set out on a mission to give these students a fighting chance and keep them OUT of the system. They set a goal in 2018 to reach and serve 1,000 students within a 10 year period of time through the J3 Foundation. With the recent racial tensions and inequities in 2020, they have elevated that goal to reach those 1,000 students as soon as possible.
J3’s approach is grounded in rigorous, evidence-based research and informed by a cycle of continuous evaluation using school data, informal & formal assessments, and parent/teacher/student surveys. Our development team includes nationally-recognized expert educational practitioners and researchers, in addition to experts in the fields of psychology and social work.
It’s all about finding the right book! At J3, we know that creating lifelong readers starts with access to irresistible culturally relevant books. Our J3 collection, that ALL J3 participants have access to, has been carefully curated to include high-interest, culturally diverse, and all-inclusive fiction and non-fiction titles. In addition to lending books to students & teachers that participate in J3’s after school Cozy Reading Club, we also donate books to our participants so all J3 students can create or grow their own home libraries.
Our programs focus on providing students with the literacy skills, habits, confidence, and books they need to succeed - not just in reading but in life! At J3, we explicitly teach our students how to use their voices, to speak up, to read out loud, and to be public scholars in community spaces.
The success of J3’s programs relies heavily on solid partnerships with our schools, teachers, & parents. Our partnerships provide these students with opportunities beyond our after school reading program. These additional events and activities help J3 students learn how to share their new-found confidence and reading habits with siblings, parents, and friends in the community.
Our advisory board includes educational practitioners & researchers, parents, authors, entrepreneurs, and professionals in several fields.
Margarita Artavia, LCSW
Rick Barry, PhD
Sebastian Cognetta, EdD
James G. Ellis
Humberto R. Gray, JD
Roger H. Howard, JD
Director of Operations