Tamer Marshood was still a student when he imagined starting a program to help young readers help their communities.
Marshood started Feeding by Reading to raise money to feed hungry children and families through read-a-thon programs at local schools.
Marshood’s program brings together local schools, municipalities, and businesses as they empower children to make a difference close to home.
Since its launch, Feeding by Reading has formed partnerships with the New Jersey Institute of Technology to work with the Irvington, New Jersey community, and with Wagner College to serve Port Richmond on Staten Island, New York. Expansion into additional grade levels, the inclusion of additional community service opportunities, and scholarship programs are in the works thanks to the initial success of the program.
But this engaging nonprofit didn’t launch without a great deal of hard work. Marshood had previously considered franchising, and remembered SCORE’s help in that arena when he started thinking about a community project. A group of mentors from the Bergen, New Jersey SCORE chapter teamed up to help make Marshood’s vision a reality.
A SCORE sounding board
Working with several SCORE mentors provided a “board of directors” environment for Marshood as he developed plans to start and grow Feeding by Reading.
“We dug deep into the details of my program — further than I had previously gone on my own. We really broke down my program and organization,” Marshood says. “Peter Loder once came in with a printout of every page of my website marked up. I wasn’t expecting that personal touch when I first signed up with SCORE.”
Marshood explains that programming elements were a direct result of some of his conversations with SCORE mentors. Reading Points, the system used to track and reward students’ reading progress, was born during a SCORE meeting.
“It’s great practice for starting a company,” Marshood says. ”If you’re starting a project, you’ll have to meet with a lot of people and you can use meetings with SCORE as practice sessions to present your company, elevator pitch, and yourself.” Mentors Frank Melchior, Anthony Basile, Peter Loder, and Kristine Scheufele helped Marshood prepare for meetings with school administrators as Marshood planned to launch his program. “The answers just flew out of me when I met with education professionals.”
Next step: Focus on funding
Feeding by Reading has provided more than 6500 books since it started in 2014, and reader sponsorships have raised more than $3,000 to feed people in need. But since so much of Feeding by Reading’s funding has gone back into the community, the organization is beginning to explore grants, loans, and other funding opportunities.
“It’s one of the more challenging parts of our operation due to the costs involved,” he said in an interview with SCORE’s Bergen chapter. “My aim is to find larger companies willing to donate books to children for our program. I'm seeking out publishing companies as well as retailers.”
Whatever direction Feeding by Reading takes next, Marshood is sure to have his SCORE mentors by his side. Team up with a mentor to make your nonprofit idea a reality.