Earl Martin Phalen is CEO of Reach Out and Read (ROR), an evidence-based nonprofit organization that promotes early literacy and school readiness in pediatric exam rooms nationwide by giving new books to children and advice to parents about the importance of reading aloud. Reach Out and Read builds on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers to develop critical early reading skills in children, beginning at 6 months of age. The 3.9 million families served annually by Reach Out and Read read together more often, and their children enter kindergarten better prepared to succeed, with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills. The families served are largely families of color living in poverty.
Phalen is also the CEO of Summer Advantage, a program that believes that if provided rigorous academic programming and an array of enrichment activities during the summer months of the primary and middle school years, children will show significant academic gains in reading and math, improve their self-esteem, and aspire to be leaders.
As a law student at Harvard, Phalen helped establish Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL), and grew it from a community service project educating 20 children to a national non-profit educating 15,000 scholars annually. President Obama modeled federal legislation after Building Educated Leaders for Life, and it was recently acknowledged as one of the top 25 companies changing the world by Fast Co. and the Monitor Group. Abandoned as a child and a product of the foster care system before being adopted, Phalen is a Mind Trust Fellow and Ashoka Fellow, and holds a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.