By the time a child completes third grade, how well they read can greatly affect future academic performance and even job prospects. Shocked to learn that low reading proficiency at such a young age could negatively affect someone for years or even decades, Caleb Gipple, Northern Iowa ’21, decided to help children in neighboring communities get the best possible start in life.
His nonprofit, Readers Today Leaders Tomorrow (RTLT), was created with the mission to “remove barriers, expand opportunities and empower students.” At the 2021 Grand Chapter Conclave in Denver, Gipple was recognized with the Fellow Award for developing this children’s literacy program.
“Fellow” is a distinction reserved for SigEp undergraduates who fully embrace the concept of servant leadership by combining their talents and desire to give back to help others in a meaningful and sustainable way. To earn this recognition, brothers must successfully complete a 500-hour or 60-day service learning project before graduation.
Gipple launched a fundraising and book drive that resulted in the distribution of 2,640 books to 1,300 students. Through a partnership with the local United Way, RTLT was able to put two books into each bag of school supplies the organization gave to children in Cedar Valley and Black Hawk County.
Gipple also worked with Angela Whittmer, one of his chapter’s faculty fellows and a guidance counselor at a local junior high school, to pair students with Iowa Theta brothers for weekly reading sessions.
Thanks to his succession plan, RTLT is still in operation, even though Gipple has graduated. It will continue to benefit children in communities surrounding the University of Northern Iowa for years to come.
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