Tag Archives: St. Francis

Central Bistro

Local pizzerias toss pies for childhood literacy

Eating pizza will be more than just a night out for dinner in the Valley this October.

KidsRead USA, a childhood literacy program that provides books for children whose families cannot afford them, is teaming up with Valley restaurants to raise money for children in need with the Pizza My Heart for KidsRead USA Challenge 2014 fundraiser.

For 10 days, between October 10 and 20, participating restaurants are donating $1 from each pizza or flatbread sold to buy books for third graders who cannot afford books. Only local, independent restaurants from around the Valley were asked to participate in the Pizza My Heart Challenge, and the servers and restaurants who sell the largest amount of pizzas will earn prizes.

This is the first Pizza My Heart challenge KidsRead USA founder Eileen Bailey has organized.

“Hopefully, we’ll do it every year if everyone has a fun time and loves it,” Bailey said.

Participating restaurants include Arcadia Farms, Bistro 24 at the Ritz Carlton, Maizie’s, Tarbell’s, Nook Kitchen, St. Francis and more. Sponsoring restaurants include Pizzeria Bianco, Café ZuZu, Le Grande Orange, Hanny’s and others.

Pizza My Heart is being promoted at all the participating restaurants with posters and menu inserts.

“Reading in early childhood sparks the imagination and sense of adventure, which eventually shows a child their passions in life,” Tarbell’s chef and owner Mark Tarbell said.

KidsRead USA was founded by author and journalist Bailey in 1996, and since its foundation has given away more than 29,000 books to children in the Osborn and Balsz school districts. According to a report by Central Connecticut State University, Mesa, Ariz. is currently one of the ten worst states for childhood literacy in the nation. No Arizona cities made the top ten list for high childhood literacy rates.

“My inspiration for KidsRead was finding that the children in my neighborhood schools were very impoverished and did not have books at home,” Bailey said. “We started with one school, and that was in 1996, and now we’re at seven schools.”

The books bought with the money raised by KidsRead USA goes only to third graders. According to Literacy Connects, kindergarten through the third grade is the most critical time for children to learn how to read. Children who learn to read well in those grades are more likely to succeed in the rest of their school career. 

“I wanted to catch them at a time when they had learned to read but maybe they hadn’t experience the joy of reading for pleasure,” Bailey said. “My secret goal is to make lifelong readers and learners out of these kids.”

Approximately 61 percent of low-income families do not have age-appropriate books for their children in the household, according to a report by The LUME Institute. On top of that, The National Education Association states that children who read at home and are read to by their parents at a young age score higher on standardized testing. However, in low-income households, children are much less likely to be read to and to read at home than in homes with higher income levels. 

Not only does the Pizza My Heart challenge raise money for disadvantaged third graders at inner-city schools, but it rewards the restaurants and servers who participate in the fundraiser.

The top sellers for both individual servers and restaurants will earn prizes such as cash giveaways, gift cards and passes to various Valley locations such as Top Golf Scottsdale.

“We hope it’s lots of fun for the restaurants, the servers and the KidsRead fans who go in to eat pizza,” Bailey said.

Pizza My Heart still has openings for restaurants who wish to participate in the fundraiser. The entry deadline is Sept. 30 and restaurant owners who want to participate may contact Eileen Bailey at 602-266-4514, eileenbailey1@cox.net  or visit kidsreadusa.org

 

Klocke Dan dpp 6-14-05

Phoenix Public Market boosts micro-businesses

Micro businesses may be small, but they pack a big punch.

Though defined as businesses with less than five employees, www.microexec.com reports that micro firms “represent a staggering 99.7percent of all the employer firms in the country.”  That means more than half of all private-sector employees work for micro firms which pay “44 percent of the total private payroll in the county.”

A Small Business Administration (SBA) report in March 2010 showed that micro businesses created 64 percent of all net new U.S. jobs from 1993 to 2009.

For many micro-business owners, making their first foray into business can be a challenge.  The Phoenix Public Market provides very low-cost opportunities to promote products, establish revenue, and expand micro-businesses.  Along the way, they learn, perhaps make a few mistakes and grow in a low-risk environment.   Today, 45 vendors who started at the Phoenix Public Market now have products that can be found in major grocery stores and restaurants throughout the Valley.

In May, the Market will celebrate the grand opening of a new restaurant by St. Francis owner Aaron Chamberlin in the space that formerly housed Urban Grocery.  The restaurant is adjacent to the open air Market which supports over 100 micro businesses, many of whom will be selling products to the new restaurant.

Despite having to close the indoor Urban Grocery store last May, the open air Phoenix Public Market remains one of the Valley’s leading advocates for and tactical supporters of small business and has continued to grow and flourish.

Even with the setback and the financial challenges it generated, we were able to hold firm in our mission to create opportunities for small businesses that may not be able to open storefronts because of the cost.

Among the reasons we were able to maintain our focus and continue moving forward was the consistent and stalwart support from groups like the City of Phoenix and Bank of America.  The City of Phoenix has been a large supporter from a capital standpoint in building out the open air Market parking lot.  Bank of America was among the first to invest in the Phoenix Public Market with a three-year $25,000 grant and then stepped up with another $15,000 right after the grocery closed when we needed it most.

The impact of those efforts will be reflected long-term and locally. To date our micro businesses have sold over $7 million in local products.  Their support and our ongoing ability to provide opportunities for small businesses will create jobs and generate revenue, taxes and consumer traffic that will, ultimately, contribute to a stronger, more vibrant community.

Those benefits pay dividends to all of us.

 

Dan Klocke is Vice President, Development, for the Downtown Phoenix Partnership (www.downtownphoenix.com).  For information about the Phoenix Public Market, visit www.foodconnect.org.