Reading is The way up® began as a nine-month public relations campaign that City National Bank launched in April 2002 to increase state awareness of the plight of California public school libraries, to elevate the bank’s brand awareness, and to engage its stakeholders—customers (existing and potential), employees, and opinion leaders. It was kicked off with the announcement of a $100,000 gift from the bank to the Governor’s Book Fund through the California State Library Foundation for 20 schools across the state to purchase much-needed books.
CauseConnect was hired in late 2002 to transform the public relations campaign into a sustainable marketing program for CNB and then provided consulting services to the bank on this award-winning program until 2012. Services include writing and publishing a Reading is The way up® Community Service Toolkit for bank associates, creating and managing a teacher grants program, establishing a continuing national partnership with Barnes & Noble Booksellers, creating a 501(c)3 fund and solicitations to secure charitable gifts from colleagues and clients, identifying and screening school partners, establishing a volunteer reading program, and producing special events in the community.
Since its inception, to date, Reading is The way up® has awarded $1.6 million to elementary, middle and high school teachers for creative literacy projects; reached close to one million students; and donated over one million books through schools in California, New York, Nevada, Nashville, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. Awards during CauseConnect’s tenure for this program included the following: