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May 30, 2013

Community leaders to compete in spelling bee

A ticket to the Reading Partners Silicon Valley Celebrity Spelling Bee will give the public a chance to watch local figures like retired San Francisco 49er Harris Barton and LinkedIn CFO Steve Sordello battle each other to be the literacy champion.

The June 3 spelling bee hopes to raise awareness and funds for Reading Partners, a national education nonprofit working to improve child literacy skills in low-income elementary schools.

“It’s one of the phenomenal things about our program. People want to come out and show their support for kids, particularly for something as important as early literacy,” said Susanna Thornton, director of advancement at Reading Partners.

Reading Partners allows community volunteers to work one-on-one with students who are reading a half a year to two and a half years below grade level. This year, the program had almost 8,000 volunteers nationwide — with about 1,500 volunteers in the Silicon Valley alone — and served more than 1,000 students.

For two weeks before the event, each team will raise funds to earn “Spelling Passes” — which allow them to pass challenging words to their opponents.

Corporate sponsors — City National Bank, Kilroy Realty and the Sobrato Organization — and Silicon Valley Regional Board Member Katherine Morris will each host a team with a $10,000 funding contribution and a representative on the stage.

“We are really fortunate to have such a great network in the Silicon Valley and to have partners like City National Bank that are invested in ramping up their engagement with Reading Partners to have a moral, holistic relationship,” Thornton said.

Thornton also said that Reading Partners hopes to raise $100,000 from the event.

“Silicon Valley is universally recognized as a global hub of innovation and opportunity,” said Tim Draper, Venture Capitalist and Founder of Draper, Fisher, Jurvetson in a Reading Partners press release. “If we are going fuel future innovation and empower the next generation of skilled technology workers, more kids need to have the fundamental literacy skills required to graduate high school, attend college, and find work in a competitive global economy. Reading Partners is helping ensure children in our community are better prepared to be a part of that opportunity.”

Along with Draper, Survey Monkey CEO Dave Goldberg, Silicon Valley Leadership Group President and CEO Carl Guardino, former NBC Bay Area news anchor Lisa Kim, San Jose Councilmember Sam Liccardo, Sobrato Family Foundation Board President and Trustee Lisa Sobrato Sonsini and S-Cubed Capital Managing Partner Mark Stevens are “celebrity” participants.

The event will take place at Draper University from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Karishma Mehrotra /Palo Alto Online News / Source

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