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Palm Beach Daily News: Day Academy students awarded $9,000 for reading project

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Four Palm Beach Day Academy students are one step closer to helping younger children at the YMCA in West Palm Beach to improve their reading, thanks to $9,000 from philanthropists through the Palm Beach Philanthropy Tank.

The program is a contest open to students from grades seven to 12. Students pitch an idea to a panel of judges, and if they’re one of nine groups selected for the final round, they work with philanthropists through Advisors for Philanthropic Impact to prepare for a live event.

Eighth-graders Liz Cloninger and Miranda Green with seventh-graders Liana Stoll and Peyvie Wexler stood on stage Wednesday at a Shark Tank-style production and pitched their idea to purchase iPads with cases and headphones that they could load up with recordings of them reading short stories.

“Think about the last time you got lost in a book,” Stoll told the four philanthropic judges and close to 200 people in the Maltz Jupiter Theatre. “Now think about not being able to read well or not at all.”

She went on to tell a anecdote about how she has been helping a student at the YMCA with reading once a week. “He tells me that he wishes I could help him with reading every day,” Stoll said.

The judges then peppered the students with questions, before being sent off and hearing the next group.

After an intermission, the two judges agreed to give the students $9,000 of the $10,000 that they requested. Stoll’s teammates shared statistics about literacy issues across the United States and how they hoped to help.

“As someone who loves to read … and for the time you girls are willing to give up, I’d like to give you $8,000,” said resident and judge Christine Stiller, who will now help the group to bring their plan to fruition. Judge Julie Fisher Cummings, also of Palm Beach, chipped in an extra $1,000 to help.

The group, which calls itself Y Not Read?, were relieved to hear the results.

“We were pretty nervous,” Miranda said. “They really expressed [to us] to show that you’re confident.”

Her teammate, Liz, also said she was nervous but excited about the experience.

“It was a lot less nerve-wracking than I thought,” she said. “It was fun. We’re really excited.”

Their parents were pleased. “I’m so proud of them,” said Lori Stoll. “They were so quick on their feet.”

The founders of the event were excited about their second successful event.

“Asking for money is not an easy task,” co-founder Michael Kohner said. “That’s stuff they’re going to carry into the business world.”

Evan Deoul, the other co-founder, hopes that the concept will start to take root elsewhere.

“These kids are boundless,” he said. “My vision would be a national foundation. The whole program is very pure.”

Link: http://www.palmbeachdailynews.com/news/local/day-academy-students-awarded-000-for-reading-project/7iZwjSqtPT7dzNAHWvkJhK/