How?

The goal is to provide a new book to every first grader in the state, every month of the school year by the year 2025.

How are we going to get there?

With a logical approach. With lots of deep breaths. And, hopefully, with your help.

First, we need willing schools and communities. This has gotten a little easier over time, but those initial phone calls to superintendents saying “You don’t know us, but we want to give books to your kids,” were rightfully met with skepticism. that being said, the 26 communities currently participating in this program are actively engaged in ensuring only the best for their kids. Knowing which communities want to be next in line is enormously helpful.

Next is partners. We have been fortunate to find some very community-minded businesses and organizations in the early days of Dirigo Reads who quickly saw the importance of the goals, and the value of investing in our children. But books aren’t free, and it’s not inexpensive to reach all of our state’s first graders. We could always use more valued partners, but we’re incredibly thankful for those who see the goals and believe in the mission.

Machias Savings Bank is our first Dirigo Star Founding Partner. That means that Machias Savings Bank has made a significant investment in our kids, allowing as many children as possible to receive a new book to keep for every month of the school year. Machias Savings Bank understands the value of investing in our people and communities, and we thank them for their early support of Dirigo Reads.

Sutherland Weston Marketing Communications in Bangor is the reason you are seeing this website, the logo on this website, and some printed materials that are being circulated. They also have provided invaluable insight and helped with connections. Dirigo Reads thanks Sutherland Weston for the support not just for this organization, but for the community at large.

Bangor Savings Bank was the first partner to hear about the program and reach out to us. They wanted to know what they could do to get involved, and they got involved at the highest level possible without hesitation. Bangor Savings Bank is more than a partner, they are a neighbor, literally. And when we so often find that good neighbors are hard to find, our thanks cannot be overstated to our valued neighbors and partners at Bangor Savings Bank.

United Way of Eastern Maine is also supporting Dirigo Reads in a big way, by providing strategy help and insight, as well as being our fiscal partner. The goal of Dirigo Reads is lofty, so we really want to stay focused on the books, not so much the book-keeping. United Way of Eastern Maine is helping us with that and so much more. The mission of Dirigo Reads fits well with the mission of the United Way of Eastern Maine, and Dirigo Reads is thrilled to have their support.

photo of dan and karen cashman with partners behind a dirigo reads poster

In addition to those supporters, some of Maine’s finest businesses have joined in the effort to improve literacy skills at a young age. If you do business with any of these organizations, or if you know anyone there, please give them a hearty “thank you” for their commitment to community:

Northern Light Health
Changing Seasons FCU
PCHC
Cross Insurance
Hannaford Supermarkets
Acadia Federal Credit Union
The First
Dave’s World

Plans are already underway for year three. More towns and schools, more partners, more books for first graders, and understanding of the benefits of childhood literacy. How many towns will we see on board for year three? We don’t know yet. The road map is taking us from 2019 to 2025. Exactly which roads we take are not determined yet, but we will analyze the first two years (both pre-pandemic and in a pandemic) and continue seeking partners for the program to ensure that year three is met with growth and stability for the program.

If you are a business owner, business employee, or someone who knows someone at a business you think might want to help in these efforts, please reach out to us. Dirigo Reads is starting from scratch, and the businesses who help this effort in its earliest days will see the greatest rewards.

For information about partnering with Dirigo Reads, questions, or media opportunities, please contact Karen Cashman at karen@DirigoReads.com or Dan Cashman at dan@DirigoReads.com.