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A Look: Start Lighthouse

A Look at the Start Lighthouse and a Q&A with its CEO.

This summer, Get Caught Reading launched a new community leader poster series featuring Rina Madhani, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Start Lighthouse; Roderick Jones, Executive Director of Goddard Riverside; and Dr. Raymond Codrington, CEO of the Weeksville Heritage Center.  More posters are to come this year and into 2022.

This is the second in a series of profiles of vital community service organizations around the country. Check out the first profile, of the Weeksville Heritage Center, at the bottom of this post.

Start Lighthouse was founded by a team of passionate and dedicated individuals who envision a community where literacy and destiny are not defined by a zip code. We support life-long literacy through a two-generational approach. We create access through customized literacy kits, literacy programming with a racial justice lens, and fundamental community workshops for families.

We asked Rina Madhani, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Start Lighthouse to answer three questions.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is seeing our racial justice literacy program Woke Activists implemented in classrooms across the Bronx. It’s remarkable to see the integration of multicultural literature which reflects the culturally diverse lives and experiences of our students and the community. Every single day, our students are reminded that their history and perspective on the world matters. 

What advice has stuck with you for a long time? Who gave you that advice?

I’ve been told that “if you’re building something truly remarkable, you will meet hundreds of people along the way who will tell you why it can’t be done. You listen to their advice, thank them for it, and then prove them wrong.” I am so lucky to have an older brother who mentors and inspires me every single day. Ever since I was a kid, I have looked up to him because he is absolutely fearless in everything that he does. Several years ago, he decided to quit his job and put his savings towards founding his own legal-tech startup, Alt Legal. He has taught me to dream big and to be unapologetic when it comes to these dreams. 

What has been the most memorable moment of your time at your organization

 When I launched Start Lighthouse last March during the height of the pandemic, I had set a modest goal of collecting 500 brand-new multicultural books for our students in the Bronx. A few months later, I connected with one of my favorite children’s book authors, Kobi Yamada. During my phone conversation with Kobi, he paused and asked, “How many books does Start Lighthouse envision giving out?” To that, I answered, “We set a goal of distributing 500 books to students through our customized literacy kits, and we’re more than halfway to meeting that goal.” After that conversation ended, Kobi reached out to let me know that he and his team at Compendium decided to donate 500 copies of What Do You Do With An Idea? because of his unwavering belief in our work.  

Read more about the Start Lighthouse and don’t forget to see their volunteer opportunities!

Read more community service organizations’ posts, start with the first one about the Weeksville Heritage Center.

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