Reading and Beyond Founder and CEO retires after 23 years

Kassandra Gutierrez Image
Tuesday, November 22, 2022
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Luis Santana founded Reading and Beyond in 1999, eight years after he arrived in Fresno from Brazil.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Luis Santana founded Reading and Beyond in 1999, eight years after he arrived in Fresno from Brazil.

His mission was to help children learn to read at grade level.

More specifically, helping minorities and families who are struggling to become self-sufficient.

After 23 years, the non-profit is closing a chapter as Luis has retired.

As an immigrant who learned English in just one year, the drive behind Luis' work is personal to him.

"Somebody who grew up with parents who never learned how to read or write, I know the value of that and I look back, what I arrived at and where I am, I knew education is the one that opened the doors for me," says Luis.

The non-profit's data shows on average, 70% of children it has helped, improved one grade level in six months. Those strides are also reflected in the growth of the organization itself.

The non-profit began with just a couple of volunteers - now it has over 80 employees. It also helps hundreds of children each month.

For Luis, this new beginning means spending more time with his family in Brazil.

But for Christopher Jalomo, who has worked with Luis for five years, this moment is bittersweet.

"Bitter in the sense that we are going to miss him. He did a lot for the community but he is leaving a legacy for the staff and the community to lead on," explains Christopher.

Luis looks forward to the future of the non-profit, which is now under the leadership of Sandra Flores.

He hopes it continues to impact local children.

"If a child is doing better today because we helped, it is worth our while and our effort," says Luis.

If you would like to learn more about Reading and Beyond, visit here.