A Passion for Leadership & Philanthropy

by Marina Moussa

During my time with K is for Kids, I learned what it meant to be a leader. Lucky for me that started at a young age. I started with K is for Kids and Karen Clawson when I was fifteen years old. Little did fifteen-year-old me know, how important K is for Kids would be when it came to shaping me as a leader. As a young teen, I was empowered to take initiative and be an agent of change. Karen Clawson set me up, as well as every teen she worked with, with the proper tools they needed in order to feel capable of completing any task. It was evident in everything that Karen Clawson did, that it was her passion to help mold teens who would grow and be better leaders of tomorrow.

Fast forward eight years later, I am honored to say that Karen Clawson is not just the Founding Director for K is for Kids but, for me, my mentor. As I move forward in my growth as a leader, I can’t help but recognize that the years I have spent with K is for Kids has been essential. My time with Karen Clawson, has helped me recognize my love for leadership and philanthropy, through her love of leadership and philanthropy. As a twenty-three-year-old woman, I see Karen Clawson as a strong woman who continues to pave the way for many women who wish to pursue leadership in philanthropy. How lucky am I, to have a great example to look up too!

Editor’s Note: Marina is a first year student at Ava Maria School of Law, Florida Atlantic University, Class of 2016


Behind the Scenes with Conner Casey

A rising senior at Gulf Coast High School, Conner has worked behind-the-scenes at K is for Kids for two summers.

“My sister introduced me to K is for Kids. I knew even as a freshman at high school that I wanted to attain real life communication and business skills. I had already signed up for a business class at school but I knew that wouldn’t be enough to truly show myself what the behind the scenes looked like. I needed real world experience.

Doing data entry for the foundation provided me with the insight to see exactly what goes on behind the scenes of a survey or general information a company may receive from clients.

I learned many new features on a variety of programs that I could potentially bring into any career in the future, but the most useful tool I learned in my opinion was communication and teamwork. Nothing can get done without a great mix of communication and teamwork.”


K is for Kids’ Rising Reader Book Awards

Editor’s Note: K is for Kids end-of-year Top Rising Reader Book Awards is its most popular reading program with teachers, principals, and parents, and most importantly, the young honorees who earned and got to choose brand new books to take home and keep!

In 2017, thanks to our impassioned supporters the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, Arthrex, Comcast, Barnes & Noble Booksellers at the Waterside Shops, GL Homes, and California Pizza Kitchen, the foundation was able to help recognize the reading achievements of students in 32 Collier County Public Schools. 

Special thanks also go to the family of recently deceased author Dottie Withrow for donating her beautiful books to local children in need. We know these youngsters will forever cherish receiving such a treasured gift and that Dottie’s wonderful stories about animals will be shared for generations to come.

Here are but a few of the dozens of testimonials and some of our favorite photos from local educators about the positive impact K is for Kids’ Rising Readers program is having on their students.

Avalon Elementary School

Jill Seitz, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner

Young honorees from Avalon Elementary School enjoy a complimentary meal at California Pizza Kitchen at the Waterside Shops in Naples after shopping for their new books at Barnes & Noble.

“Summary of Rising Readers program — there are really so many facets to our recognition of readers! 

What we do with our books from K is for Kids is to use them in two ways: One way, is when students read the Sunshine State books, they get a free book to keep as they read 6, 10 and all 15 books. They get 1 when they read 3 books, 2 free books when they read 10 and another book if they are among the few to read all 15.   When kids read 10 SSYRA books, they get to come to our special ice cream party which has been funded by K is for Kids the past two years!

Also, K is for Kids supports our Reading Counts program: kids get a book when they reach Level 4. To keep things fair, Level 4 is a different number of points depending on the grade level. We supply different prizes for the different levels. The top twelve readers for Reading Counts have gone on a field trip to Barnes and Noble the past two years! The kids each received a gift card for shopping, then they were treated to lunch at California Pizza Kitchen! This was all funded by K is for Kids.   Going to Waterside Shops was an extremely exciting experience for the students!

Another thing is at the end of the year, we give out book awards to the a selected student from each 5th grade class. These book awards were presented at the 5th grade Moving Up Ceremony.”

Editor’s Note: K is for Kids’ Rising Readers program and its end of the year Rising Reader Book Awards not only encourage students to read more, but also helps teachers to recognize their reading achievements when they reach their goals. We do this by giving students the opportunity to earn and choose new books to take home and keep through schools’ reading incentive programs.


Eden Park Elementary School

Paul Ordetx, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner

Editor’s Note: Eden Park became the focus school for K is for Kids’ end-of-year Rising Reader Book Awards program in 2016-17. Golden Terrace Elementary has been a focus school for six years, and has reported remarkable success! 

“With the K is for Kids reading [celebration] incentive and book giveaway for our Rising Readers, we have seen our circulation numbers up 50% and our number of Rising Readers has almost doubled this year. In schools like Eden Park where over 99% of the students are listed as economically disadvantaged, these are sometimes the only books these students have the opportunity to own. These students value and appreciate the opportunity to pick a book out and keep it, but it is even more amazing when you see these students sharing these books with their friends and siblings.

We are grateful for this partnership with K is for Kids, and we are excited to be given this great opportunity to become your focus school. This relationship will hopefully continue to motivate and build our students love for reading.

An example of the program’s impact on individual students: Alexavier was a very rambunctious 1st grader, who had been making several trips to the office for behavior reasons.

Towards the end of 1st grade Alex began to read, and at the beginning of second grade we introduced him to our reading incentive program. As the year went on his proficiency in reading, and trips to the library increased.

This past year as a third grader he was a top student in Reading Counts, and his behavior has improved drastically.

I see Alexavier almost daily in the Media Center, checking-out new books and keeping me up-to-date on how many points he currently has. He is very proud of this accomplishment, and we are very proud of him.

At the end of the 2015-2016 school year Eden Park Elementary was able to honor our Rising Readers with new/current books that K for Kids had donated to our school.

The students were very excited to take home books, some who did not own any books at home.

Three brothers were so excited about what books they were able to pick. Ronnie, Pedro & Diego all made a plan to pick Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, for their book choice. They were able to get the first three books of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. By the end of the day they had shown and told every teacher at school and car ramp what books they had selected. These brothers were so excited to have new books to take home.

Without foundations like K is for Kids, these incentive programs would not be possible.”


Estates Elementary School

Carole Mathy, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner

“Sunshine State Young Reader’s award and Reading Counts help to teach our students perseverance and tenacity, as well increasing their reading levels. This is very important when it comes to end of year testing.

We appreciate K is for Kids for all the funding they have given our school in the past. Our students work hard towards being the Top Readers and reading the Sunshine State books in order to qualify for the [field] trip every year.

You help our students succeed!”


Everglades City School

Melissa Owen, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner

“Thank you again for the incredible field trip!  The shopping day at Barnes & Noble and lunch was an experience our students will never forget!  It was the first time several of our students have ever been in a bookstore and purchased new books!  Wow, I was brought to tears when one of the students used her funds to purchase books for her siblings!  Thank you for making that event possible! 

Everglades City School is very thankful for the support of K is for Kids.  Your support directly affects our literacy program in the Media Center.

One of EVG’s supplemental literacy programs is the Scholastic Reading Program.  EVG’s Media Specialist sets individual student and class goals for EVG! 

The students and classes are given quarterly reading goals. In addition, to the homemade Reading Team shirts Mrs. Owen (EVG’s Media Specialist) makes for the students as they meet their individual goals, the new books and Rising Reader field trip are the primary rewards for our students.  EVG has been a Title One school and funds for incentives are extremely low.  The K is for Kids books and Rising Reader grant enables EVG to celebrate the students’ incredible literacy advancement! 

Students from Everglades City School were the first to be honored with K is for Kids’ Rising Reader Book Awards 2017.

This year, we are thrilled by the continued Scholastic Reading Counts program growth.  Mrs. Owen documents the advancement each week when she meets with the students using the Reading Counts Program data of points earned and total words read!  We are very proud that this year EVG has reached the highest total words read count ever!  EVG will celebrate reaching 23,335,470 total words read this year!

That is a jump of over three million total words read from last year!

The students who actively earned Reading Counts points to make this possible will be rewarded with the new books provided by K is for Kids.  Please see the attached photo of our first grade students with their new books! 

First graders at Everglades City School receive K is for Kids Rising Reader Book Awards 2016 to enjoy over summer.

We are so thankful for these new books to offer the students.  They enable us the ability to provide much needed rewards and great summer reading for our students!

Thank you so much K is for Kids and all its’ sponsors for making this possible at EVG!


Golden Gate Elementary School

Kelly Knapke, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner 

“Thank you so much to K is For Kids for our Book Awards! 10 of our Top Readers were able to go on a wonderful field trip to Barnes and Noble where they were able to select $25.00 worth of books to keep for their very own. They were so excited since many of them had never even been to Barnes and Noble before. A luncheon at California Pizza Kitchen was such a special treat for our Top Readers as well! They returned to school and shared their experience with their classmates.  It was such a wonderful experience for our Top Readers! Many thanks to K is For Kids to allowing them this opportunity.

K is for Kids Top Rising Reader Book Awards 2016: Young honorees from Golden Gate Elementary lead the lineup of leaders being recognized for their reading achievements.

Results/Outcomes: The Top Readers read over 300,000 words and passed Reading Counts tests on those books over the course of the school year. One of the students actually read over 2,000,000 words. We shared the success on the morning news show with the entire school!! These students also received trophies for their accomplishments.

Impact on this school year: The impact from last school year has been inspiring to our students this year. Many students expressed that they would like to be able to attend the fieldtrip like last year! It really gave students something to work for and try to achieve. Some of our non- readers stepped up and read close to 100,000 words. Woo Hoo!!!!”


Editor’s Note: In the autumn of 2011,inspired by the efforts of media specialists like Tiffany “TJ” Weeks to fuel children’s passion for reading and to give them the critical tool of literacy to help them succeed academically, Karen Clawson created K is for Kids’ Rising Reader and end-of-year Top Rising Reader Book Awards program.  Golden Terrace Elementary became the first focus school for the program and quickly proved what an remarkable impact it was having on students — some students started the school year barely speaking English, only to rise to be champion readers by the end.

Golden Terrace Elementary School – Intermediate 3-5 grades

“When I came into this position six years ago…partnering with you and kicking off the reading programs and becoming your focus school made all the difference in the world because for the past five years you and I have been on this journey together, learning from each other about how we can motivate these kids and make them great readers.

I can’t even imagine the last five years without you and the K is for Kids program and being the focus school because you have taught me so much, and motivated me to motivate them!

Golden Terrace Elementary-Intermediate fourth grade honorees of K is for Kids Book Awards share their book selections and certificates.

We have two different programs. We have our Rising Readers program, which is done through the Reading Counts… and the kids earn free books and different awards, and those are books that come from K is for Kids. 

Third graders at Golden Terrace Elementary-Intermediate with certificates recognizing their reading achievements. The youngsters also got to chose new books donated by K is for Kids.

And then we also have our Sunshine State Readers…that program is also funded from you, and you help us organize the field trip [to Barnes & Noble and California Pizza Kitchen].

Happy honorees from GTE after shopping for new books at Barnes & Noble.

We actually do raffles also — when the kids pass the Reading Counts challenge on the book that they’ve read, they get a little ticket, and each Friday I pull anywhere from three to six, one or two per grade level, and then those kids get to come down and pick a book off the Rising Readers bookshelf also.

So the kids get their hands on a lot of books thanks to K is for Kids. And again, that’s why I can’t even imagine what it would be like, because I wouldn’t be able to reward these students the way that I have for being such self-motivated readers – if it wasn’t for the books that K is for Kids helps me obtain and provide to them.”


Golden Terrace Elementary School – Primary K-2 grades

Joyce Cordell, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner

“Thanks to K is for Kids, we just hosted a wonderful end of the year reading celebration for 53 deserving students at Golden Terrace Primary. I can hardly describe the excitement (and the noise level) permeating from the library! Students were thrilled to receive the books they shopped for at our book fair and ordered through Barnes and Noble. This was such a unique and awesome experience for our students to be able to choose books they wanted to own. It also gave me the opportunity to talk about books, genres, and characters, etc. one on one with some of our best reading students.

My goal is to fill the library with books students want to check out and read so this gives me great insight on what types of books to order. As a matter of fact, our circulation has increased each year that I have been here! We are up by 6000 books in 5 years! A lot of that is due to having that support from K is for Kids. They provide us with the free books to give to students as reading incentives. Not only do I see what they want to read, earning book rewards encourages more reading.

Now for an update on some specific data on our primary students. They have earned a whopping 10,260 Reading Counts points this year! Not only are students passing over 85% of quizzes, the average Lexile level is within grade level range. A big part of their excitement and success this year is our incentive program. Books, donated from K is for Kids, by far, are their favorite incentive.

So many of the kids have just taken off this year! One student who struggled with reading in first grade was promoted with remediation to 2nd. At the beginning of this year he got going on Reading Counts and has just soared! He is not only reading at grade level, he is excited about reading and earned enough points to come to the EOY party! Another student who came from Cuba last year in first grade spoke no English. Not only did he have to learn English, but this year in second grade he earned well over 200 Reading Counts Points!

Again, having the recognition program and incentives has made all the difference. Teachers are also seeing the difference and are much more supportive and involved. A second grade teacher told us that she believes that the growth her students achieved in reading this year was a direct result of Reading Counts!

Thank you for making this and our RAD incentive program possible! We are so grateful to have been the focus school for the past five years. As you can see the amazing support we receive from K is for Kids has made a huge difference for our students.”


Highlands Elementary School

Pete Cade, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner

Top Rising Readers 2017 from Highlands Elementary School receive a bundle of books to take home and enjoy over the summer through K is for Kids Book Awards program.


Lely Elementary School

Miffy Ruggiero, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner

Each year, teachers nominate a student to be honored at a special “Gains and Grains” Breakfast. Books are donated by K is for Kids.


Laurel Oak Elementary School where K is for Kids roots were laid with the first Bring a Book, Bring a Friend Fun’raiser in 2002-03!

Lori Myers, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner


Manatee Elementary School

Susan Pratt, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner

“K is for Kids Foundation’s Rising Reader program has been an invaluable support to the students at Manatee Elementary School. [This year] we were able to recognize over sixty of our most accomplished K-5 readers. Recipients were selected based on meeting or exceeding their Reading Counts goals. This year one of our fifth graders, Monica, earned over 2,000 RC points! As a 3rd grader, she was an extremely reluctant and below level reader.

Book donations and recognitions from the K is for Kids Foundation has been positively pivotal in this young lady’s life! In fourth grade Monica complete all fifteen of the SSYRA titles and was the top RC point earner in our school. This year she had all fifteen of the SSYRA books read before the end of the first marking period and challenged other students to do the same. Monica will be starting middle school with a very firm academic foundation and her future looks bright! Not only is Monica very well read but she is also a confident and goal oriented young lady with tremendous leadership potential.


Manatee Middle School

Robert Wind, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner


Oakridge Middle School

Theresa Ferreira, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner


Pinecrest Elementary School

Kris Blasucci, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner

“Pinecrest is the school home for over 760 students.  Of our children, 100% live at or below the poverty level.  Our students struggle with reading proficiency as they acquire English.  Through K is for Kids we were not only able to provide our students with beautiful books to call their own, but we were also able to make available a wonderful field trip into Naples.  Most of our kids don’t leave Immokalee unless they are migrating north for the summer.  Providing them with a day of shopping at Barnes & Noble along with lunch in a restaurant is a “first” for most of our students. K is for Kids allowed us to not only promote reading and celebrate our student’s accomplishments but it provided great material for our kids to have for summer reading.  We were able to inspire students from kinder to fifth grade the importance of setting goals and working hard to achieve them.  The smiles on their faces all day were amazing. 

Thank you K is for Kids for helping our Eagles soar for the day.”


Pine Ridge Middle School

Beth Lindenmeyer, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner



Poinciana Elementary School

Kristi Humberger, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner


Village Oaks Elementary School

Megan Barr, Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner

  1. We have a fifth grade student whose behavior was difficult in fourth grade, to say the least. With the help of her Reading teacher, we pushed this girl to find books that she enjoyed reading, and throughout the year, her behavior improved dramatically, and her Lexile level jumped almost 300 points! She became one of the top 10 points earners in her grade, and has developed a love for reading.
  1. K is for Kids is instrumental in providing quality books for students in our primary grades. Our kindergarten students who have met their reading goal for all four quarters are invited to a special celebration at the end of the year, where they get to watch a movie and pick out their own book to take home, courtesy of K is for Kids. Many of these students don’t get the opportunity to go to the library over the summer months, and the fact that they get to pick out their own book to keep forever is something they truly treasure. The look on their faces when they get to choose their book reinforces how grateful I am to K is for Kids for this opportunity.



Students Share a Close-Up Look at Karen Clawson, the “Ordinary Mom” Who Created K is for Kids

Karen Clawson, K is for Kids’ founder and volunteer executive director, was nominated to be Collier Citizen of the Year by her student leaders, grantees, and friends.  Although she didn’t win, she felt truly honored after reading their heartfelt testimonials


Gabriella Manuszak

Graduate of Barron Collier High School, Class of 2016, Gabriella is now a rising sophomore at the University of Florida

K is for Kids’ Young Entrepreneur 2016 Gabriella Manuszak. A graduate of Barron Collier High School, Gabriella is a student at Florida State University. She served as the foundation’s top student leader and spokesperson 2015-16.

Karen Clawson is an absolutely remarkable woman who will go to the ends of the earth to help others. Not only has she made an impact in my life, but she has changed the lives of thousands of children and teens in both Collier and Lee County.

Karen has opened my eyes to the world of giving, and she has shown me how the simplest of actions of just one person can change another’s life completely. She has promoted literacy for many years through her charity that she started herself, the K is for Kids Foundation, and her amazing educational programs that stem from it. She started as a stay-at-home mother and has transformed herself into a driven entrepreneur who donates 100% of her profits, which is an honor that not many people in this world choose to achieve.

Karen has played the main role in re-creating local school libraries by collecting and buying books through K is for Kids, and she has created an environment in the schools where kids can’t wait to come see what the library has to offer. [The foundation also enriches students’ personal libraries at home by providing books that students may earn, take home and keep through their school’s reading incentive programs.]  

Karen continuously provides students with learning opportunities and leadership roles in order to better prepare them for the world ahead. I have never met a more selfless and invested person, and she always provides an optimistic view of any situation. Karen has sparked the imagination and interest in reading for thousands of young, local adults, and will continue to do so for many years. There is no person more deserving of this monumental honor than Karen Clawson.”


Nedgie Paul

Graduate of Distinction 2015, Palmetto Ridge High School, Nedgie is now a rising junior of Florida State University

“Karen Clawson is a woman that radiates light and a passion unlike any other. Karen is the Founder and Executive director of the K is for Kids Foundation. This nonprofit focuses mainly on literacy and promotes youth leadership. Upon meeting Karen she exudes a very bright and optimistic outlook in almost every situation. Her interest in helping others is the most genuine I have ever encountered.  Truly, one of her most admirable qualities is her effervescent personality and her ability to balance the roles and requirements of running a nonprofit organization and raising a family. Knowing someone who skillfully balances so much is a pleasure and Karen is, surely, one of the finest credits to our community.   

At left: Nedgie Paul, K is for Kids’ top student leader and spokesperson 2014-15 and a senior student at Palmetto Ridge High School, is set to have her first radio interview with Karen Clawson at WGCU Public Media.

Karen remains, simply, a kind person to know.  She is positive, organized, and exceptionally caring.  These qualities allow her to work so well with others, and support her accolades within the foundation and throughout the community.  The connections she has made throughout the community further exemplify her engaging social and her devotion to a cause that is close to her heart.

I, myself, am captivated by her poise and her wisdom. She serves as, not only, a well-respected community figure but she is also beloved by the students and volunteers involved in the organization. She puts forth 100% effort in everything she does and there has never been a doubt in my mind that she will do everything in her capability to see others succeed.

I began volunteering for the foundation during my junior year of high school and I was astounded by the growth and progress I made with Karen’s help as my mentor, role model and friend. She allowed me to see things in myself that I would have never realized before. Karen gave me the opportunity to venture off into uncharted waters and discover my true passions. Through roles such as being the Co-Chair of the K is for Kids Teen Fashion Show, the top youth leader and spokesperson, and the youth representative at the National Publicity Summit in New York City, I began to see myself as a leader with greater potential than I ever thought possible. She pushed me towards paths of success and I was able to build my confidence and discover my leadership capabilities.  And I am forever grateful.

The inspiration for K is for Kids began at Laurel Oak Elementary in 2002 in efforts solely rooted in advocating literacy in young children but the foundation has since expanded and branched into an organization that builds character and develops initiative, strengthens communication and problem solving skills, and ultimately cultivates the leaders of tomorrow.  

It takes a very special and strong person to handle so many tasks and responsibilities and Karen manages to do so with grace. I have appreciated everything she has done for me in more ways than I can express and I hope this nomination serves her justice for the great impact she has had on my life and the lives of others.

[This] “Testimonials” webpage shines an even brighter light on the momentous effect that Karen and K is for Kids Foundation has had on so many students and individuals throughout the community.

K is for Kids’ Top Leaders Reception, May 2015: Hadrien Roy, a graduate of Barron Collier High School, Class of 2015 and recipient of the Patrick Clawson Jr. Vision Scholarship, poses with Nedgie Paul, a Graduate of Distinction 2015 of Palmetto Ridge High School and recipient of the Erin Clawson Victory Scholarship. Both honorees served as K is for Kids’ interns in business administration and communication as well as the foundation’s top student leaders and spokespersons.

Hadrien Roy

Graduate of Barron Collier High School, Class of 2015, Hadrien is now a rising junior at the University of Florida

“I met Karen a few years ago while participating in the annual K is For Kids Teen Fashion Show. Two years later I was one of the student leaders of the organization which was headed by Karen herself. She is by far the most compassionate and caring individual I have ever met, always giving to others before herself. Her passion and strive with her organization is unmatched and is easy to tell by her always smiling face and hard work. She has become a mentor towards me as well as countless others.

Karen gives students the opportunity to give back to the community in ways they probably didn’t think possible. I know if it weren’t for her I wouldn’t be where I am today as a strong willed individual because she provided me with good character and leadership skills. Everything she does has a purpose of giving and whenever I think it’s not possible for her to give more, she does. An example would be her devotion to giving back to the students who help the organization by providing countless scholarship opportunities for them. I was fortunate enough to receive one of these scholarships, which was a great honor for me and helped me afford to move to the next level of my education.

Karen is an outstanding person, only looking to better the community and those in it.”


Darice Pollard

Graduate of Naples High School, Class of 2015, Darice is now a rising junior at Florida Gulf Coast University

“Karen Clawson is the energetic Founder and Executive Producer of the K is for Kids Foundation, a teen-driven foundation that fosters young men and women so they can develop into brilliant leaders and readers. She’s created a vehicle that provides numerous teens with opportunities including work experience, much needed volunteer hours, business opportunities, leadership roles, and much more!

Last year when I was a senior at Naples High School, my art teacher presented me with an email containing information about a Teen Illustration Contest being held by Karen through K is for Kids. Essentially, she had a manuscript, but wanted an illustrator to bring her work to life in exchange for a $3000 scholarship and a percentage of the book’s profits. Though Karen could’ve easily found a more qualified artist, she wanted to use her book as an opportunity for a Collier teen to be a part of a very fruitful and rewarding experience.

Darice Pollard, winner of K is for Kids’ Teen Illustrator Contest, May 2015. Darice, then a recent graduate of Naples High School, is now a student at Florida Gulf Coast University. [Update: Darice is nearing the completion of her illustrations for “White Moon, Purple Sea & The Underwater Circus” by Karen D. Clawson, K is for Kids’ founder and volunteer executive director.

After a few stages of competition, I found out that I won the Teen Illustration Contest! With this, I chose to embark on an extensive journey. I’ve already learned so many life experiences.

First and foremost, thanks to Karen, I will be able to add a really unique and strong element to my resume as a young artist- a published book. Equally important, I was able to communicate with a very esteemed panel of judges for the competition, including Ronnie Ann Herman (Former Associate Publisher and V.P. at Penguin Books’ Grosset & Dunlap). Each judge involved exchanged encouraging words with me, something that really boosted my esteem as an artist. Also, during the creation of the illustrations, I’ve been able to receive valuable advice from both Karen and Ronnie as we remain in close contact as the book progresses. Karen has provided a network of connections that I couldn’t find anywhere else.

Work ethic, time management, speaking, promoting, and communicating professionally are just some of the skill areas that Karen was generous enough to lend her time and energy to help me develop. We’ve discussed business over lunches to become more comfortable partners and she’s even invited me to her home to show me the art in her home that shared the same theme as the book to spark inspiration. She is a very hands-on mentor who is willing to put in that extra time with her teens to make sure they understand the task at hand. I’ve seen how poised and refined her teen volunteers are, and the experience she’s provided them is all too apparent.

If you’ve ever been in her presence and observed the way she moves and speaks you’d wonder how such a busy woman is able to maintain her high energy and effervescence. To me, she’s superwoman, succeeding as a mother, organization leader, partner, and mentor. She’s planting so many good seeds, cultivating strong leaders from youth, not mention SHE WORKS WITH TEENS, an age group that takes lots of energy to mold and tend to.

The bulk of her time is spent tending to the K is for Kids Foundation, so I believe she deserves recognition for her investment in us children because we are essentially the future, and Karen is helping to make it a good one.”


Mario Chang

Graduate of Gulf Coast High School, Class of 2015, Mario is now a rising senior at the University of Florida.

“Karen Clawson understands more than anyone else that children are the light of our future. As the Director of K is for Kids Foundation, Mrs. Clawson demonstrates her unreserved passion for helping students across Collier County by actively working with students in learning essential entrepreneurial skills and qualities, while at the same time raising funds and books for kids.

Personally, I have had the pleasure of not only knowing Mrs. Clawson, but I have become the person that I am today in part because of her kindness, generosity, and her incredible compassion for all people. Needless to say that she has served as an inspiring role model for my siblings and myself. Like a ripple effect, Mrs. Clawson has shown me how to become a better and stronger leader, and I in turn have shown my siblings.

Mario Chang at far right, K is for Kids 5th Annual Teen Fashion Show 2015. A reunion of last year’s Teen Fashion Show co-chairs who came to support the show. L-R: Patrick Clawson Jr., Gulf Coast High School Class of 2014, and a freshman at the University of Florida; Nicholas Nolan, Barron Collier High School Class of 2014 and a freshman at Florida State University; Nedgie Paul, this year’s co-chair and Palmetto Ridge High School senior; and Mario Chang,Gulf Coast High School Class of 2014, and a freshman at the University of Florida.

As a spokesperson and student leader, I have seen the amazing work Mrs. Clawson has and is able to accomplish for students and the community around her. Within the realms of the organization’s signature event, the Annual Teen Fashion Show, Mrs. Clawson has been able to organize and give the opportunity to 120 students, from 27 different schools and universities, to get hands on modeling and entrepreneurial experience; all while raising funds and books for kids.

It is also imperative to note that Mrs. Clawson not only dedicates her incredible efforts in working with students, but she goes above and beyond in pushing students to become leaders. As a personal example, after working with Mrs. Clawson in K is for Kids for a few months, she pushed me and mentored me into becoming one of the student leaders of the organization. Her guidance then helped me become one of the co-founders of Operation: Outreach, a high school club dedicated to teaching high school students important skills like networking and marketing, all while offering volunteer hours and raising funds and books for kids.

Since 2003, Mrs. Clawson has been working to boost the inventories of over 60 schools and universities, as well as enriching students’ own personal libraries, primarily in Collier and south Lee counties. And since the day I have met her, she has been making beautiful differences in the lives of everyone she meets.”


Brigitte Papica

Graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University, Class of 2013, Brigitte now is an international flight attendant. (June 2016)

“In 2013, my last semester of college, I was honored to serve as one of the main interns and spokesperson for K is for Kids. Karen Clawson, Founder & Executive Director of K is for Kids, gave me the opportunity of a lifetime to use my talents and skills to serve and mentor young adults of all ages that were dreamers just like me.

K is for Kids is a nonprofit organization that showcase God-given talents as well as shape them to encourage everyone to pursue all of their goals they did not think possible. Karen Clawson, was not only my mentor, but a great role model that I look up to. She is very passionate at what she does and determined towards the goal of spreading the opportunities many children wait for a lifetime to have. I can recall the countless hours I spent developing a business plan to pass on for future K is for Kids’ interns and to look back at it now… It is very rewarding and mind blowing.

Karen Clawson is a phenomenal woman that impacts many young adults lives in Southwest Florida. If it wasn’t for K is for Kids, I wouldn’t have fully explored my full potential and leadership skills. K is for Kids allowed me to find my purpose and become a ‘doer’ not just a ‘dreamer’

The foundation has grown tremendously since I have left college and flew the friendly skies to become an International Flight Attendant.  My experiences with K is for Kids showed me just how much time management I have and how much more I am yet to accomplish. As a future pilot, and an aspiring astronaut for NASA, I am humbled to know how far I have come since K is for Kids. I know that this foundation will continue to shape future leaders and provide endless opportunities for a child aspiring to become anything they want to be. Reading shapes our lives. Books create these dreams. It starts with one book. One foundation. One mentor. 

Thank you Karen Clawson for all that you do, and all that you have accomplished.

(I am about to head out to the airport to leave for Taipei, I hope my nomination comes a long way!  🙂 –  Brigitte”

K is for Kids’ spokespersons and Florida Gulf Coast University interns (Class of 2013), John Maloney and Brigitte Papica make their first TV appearance on Fox 4’s Morning Blend TV show with “Wild Bill”.

John Maloney

Graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University, Class of 2013, John has been exercising his entrepreneurial passions

“I was privileged to work with Ms. Clawson and her K is for Kids organization during my senior year at Florida Gulf Coast University, and find my experiences to be testaments to why she is an outstanding citizen. I starred in fitness videos that highlighted children’s health. I spoke on behalf of the foundation on the Fox 4 Morning Blend Show promoting the From the Heart Teen Fashion Festival. As a guest speaker at the annual teen fashion show, I delivered a motivational speech and aided in the development of the overall production as a business management and communications advisor. As a graduate I now offer my expertise of health healing and performing to the K is for Kids advisory board. I know that with K is for Kids children learn from the inside out…just as I did.”


Carol Tague

A mom who has raised five children, Carol served as an independent contractor for K is for Kids overseeing all things “books”

“Karen Clawson embodies what it truly means to put others before yourself. As the founder of K is for Kids, her emphasis has always been on the kids, and she has always insisted that the spotlight shines on them and not on her. 

In the short time of just over a year that I have known her, I have witnessed her relentlessly advocate for the teens that she mentors. Nothing makes her happier than to see one of her mentees succeed.  They have the distinct advantage of having Karen make them and their personal and professional growth a priority.

Karen started her mission when she saw a need in the community. Thousands of students over the years have benefitted from K is for Kids programs. She is the lone adult and driving force that motivates teens to develop their talents and dream big while helping younger students aspire for greatness through their love of reading. 

At a time when many are relaxing and hitting the links, Karen continues to selflessly pour all of her time and energy into the students that she benefits. She is a warrior who unleashes their potential. Karen certainly is an outstanding citizen.”

Carol Tague, at far right, and Beth Lindenmeyer at right. Karen Clawson is surrounded by women integral to her heart’s pursuit at the Naples Daily News inaugural “25 Over 50” awards ceremony. At Karen’s left are Lisa Edwards and Kelly Wilson.


Beth Lindenmeyer

Media Specialist and K is for Kids Education Partner, Pine Ridge High School

“As the media specialist at Pine Ridge Middle, my proposed initiative was to honor students that have a passion for reading as evidenced by their frequent visits to my media center and the feedback they provide to me about the books, just in casual student-led conversations as well as their interaction with their peers to share their excitement about the book – yet they weren’t necessarily the stellar students that always stand out because they excel in every subject across the board.

Karen Clawson turned this initiative into reality! The “caveat” so to speak, which was really more of a thought-provoking suggestion, was for these honored “voracious readers”  to share this passion for reading with the younger age group by pairing them up with an elementary-aged child (friend of family, neighbor, relative) and reading with them – presenting them with a bookmark and fostering a mentorship-type relationship.  No hidden catch; the follow-up goal was to take the step and recreate, on a much smaller scale, the investment of time, dedication and leadership that they experienced through Karen Clawson’s non-pretentious role-modeling.

The seed was planted! Building readers and leaders!

Quoting words from the mom of one of a student that was honored in Pine Ridge Middle School’s Readers Make Leaders ceremony:  ‘My daughter will enter high school next year. She has always required extra help in reading as the result of ongoing chemotherapy (about ten years) that has impacted her ability to learn or retain information. Because of this, she’s always hated reading…  Your generous gift has allowed kids like [my daughter] who would otherwise not be recognized for their efforts and achievements to have their dedication and tenacity recognized. She was allowed to choose books for her very own collection that she’s both proud of and excited to read over the summer.”



Rising Reader Book Awards 2016: Student Field Trip

Everglades City School

Thank you again for the incredible field trip on May 9th!  The shopping day at Barnes & Noble and lunch was an experience our students will never forget!  It was the first time several of our students have ever been in a bookstore and purchased new books!  Wow, I was brought to tears when one of the students used her funds to purchase books for her siblings!  Thank you for making that event possible! — Melissa Owen, Media Specialist

1 EVG BN Fave Group on Stage

Everglades City School’s Top Readers of all ages show the books they selected during their commemorative field trip honoring their reading achievements. K is for Kids was thrilled to have teens included this year! Front Row:  M. O’Connell (EVG Teacher Assistant), Miranda O., Nora P., Dalton L. and  Jessica C. Middle row:  Karen Clawson, K is for Kids founder and E.D.; Melissa Owen, Media Specialist), Daneli C., Amelia P., Reyvan C., Taylor D., Stephani P., Faith B., Tori W. and Jessica Olsen, Barnes & Noble Business Communiy Relations Manager; Top row:  Daniel G., Savannah H., Claybrook S., Brandy B., Levi J., and NaNa M.


EVG 1st grade students celebrate their reading achievements at school!

EVG First Graders with books from K is for Kids Rising Readers program 2016

Celebrating Readers and Earning Book Awards: Everglades City School’s First Grade Class!

 We are so thankful for these new books to offer the students.  They enable us the ability to provide much needed rewards and great summer reading for our students!

Thank you so much K is for Kids and all its’ sponsors for making this possible at EVG!


Everglades City School is very thankful for the support of K is for Kids.  Their support directly affects our literacy program in the Media Center.

One of EVG’s supplemental literacy programs is the Scholastic Reading Program.  EVG’s Media Specialist sets individual student and class goals for EVG!

The students and classes are given quarterly reading goals. In addition, to the homemade Reading Team shirts [given to] the students as they meet their individual goals, the new books and Rising Reader field trip are the primary rewards for our students.   EVG has been a Title One school and funds for incentives are extremely low.  The K is for Kids books and Rising Reader grant enables EVG to celebrate the students’ incredible literacy advancement! 

This year, we are thrilled by the continued Scholastic Reading Counts program growth.  Mrs. Owen documents the advancement each week when she meets with the students using the Reading Counts Program data of points earned and total words read!  We are very proud that this year EVG has reached the highest total words read count ever!  EVG will celebrate reaching 23,335,470 total words read this year!

That is a jump of over three million total words read from last year!

The students who actively earned Reading Counts points to make this [record] possible will be rewarded with the new books provided by K is for Kids.  Please see the attached photo of our first grade students with their new books!  We are so thankful for these new books to offer the students.  They enable us the ability to provide much needed rewards and great summer reading for our students!

Thank you so much K is for Kids and all its’ sponsors for making this possible at EVG!



What are the best things about K is for Kids?

Just ask the kids!

Here is what our student leaders said at our Top Leaders Meetings this year during a fun stickie note exercise with business consultant Mina Merkel.

Top Leaders Meeting - 2 12-12-15

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2015 Top Leaders Meeting - Participants Sticker Up

At K is for Kids’ Top Leaders Meeting in Dec. 2015, participants sticker up with adult mentors.

See more at: http://www.kisforkids.org/news/2015-top-leaders-meeting-students-leaders-meet-adult-mentors-in-strategic-planning-session/

2015 Top Leaders Meeting All students attending.

Participants of the Top Leaders Meeting 2015: Adult mentors Vin Izzi, President of Izzi Business Consulting; Karen D. Clawson, K is for Kids Founder and volunteer Executive Director; Nedgie Paul, a sophomore attending Florida State University and K is for Kids College Student Advisory Council member; Daylin Baez, a senior student at Lorenzo Walker Technical High School and member of K is for Kids top student leadership council, DOSA (Directorate of Student Agenda); Jake LaRochelle, a senior at Barron Collier High and member of DOSA; Gabriella Manuszak, a senior at Barron Collier High and member of DOSA ; Mina Merkel, business consultant; Sara Saintil, a junior student at Lely High School and DOSA member; Bree Gelin, a junior student at Lely High School and DOSA member; Vendredi Carter, a senior student at Lorenzo Walker Technical High School and intern for K is for Kids; and Krisha Mak, a senior at Lorenzo Walker Technical High and DOSA member. Not shown: Mentor Gene Landrum, PhD., author, entrepreneur, creator of Chuck E. Cheese, Professor Emeritus of Hodges University, and K is for Kids director. Photograph by mentor Kelly Wilson, business teacher at Barron Collier High School and education partner for K is for Kids. – See more at: http://www.kisforkids.org/news/2015-top-leaders-meeting-students-leaders-meet-adult-mentors-in-strategic-planning-session/#sthash.sTOPWW1w.dpuf


Nedgie Paul writes about her experience with K is for Kids.

TeenFashionShow_JonathanBogue-FGCU_NedgiePaul-PRH_byMKBernard-THUMBNOTE: Nedgie Paul, shown at left at her favorite event, the annual K is for Kids’ Teen Fashion Show and also above, third from left, served as the foundation’s senior student spokesperson 2014-15. Nedgie was named the Graduate of Distinction Class of 2015 of Palmetto Ridge High School. She is now a freshman of Florida State University. Nedgie continues serves as a student spokesperson and College Student Advisor for K is for Kids.

On Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 8:40 PM, Nedgie Paul wrote:

     My work with the K is for Kids Foundation is one of my proudest accomplishments. When I began volunteering with the organization in my junior year I was very shy and introverted and I struggled to speak publicly. However, over time, with guidance and mentoring I escaped my comfort zone and flourished beyond belief. Not only did I gain confidence but I saw myself in a different light and I was amazed at my own capabilities. As I was given more prominent roles, I truly discovered my leadership potential and the influence I had on others. The impact of K is For Kids in my community has further fueled my drive for success. Now, I can clearly see the abundance of opportunities I have in store for me. K is for Kids has created the foundation for my future endeavors
 and I am so grateful. 

[Editor: We think the reader will agree that Nedgie’s long list of accomplishments for the foundation is remarkable for a volunteer of any age and reveals how this remarkable young woman left a legacy behind in her community before she even graduated from high school.]

I have served as the youth leader and spokesperson for the K is for Kids Foundation, responsible for the mission and activities of all youth volunteers. I help plan, promote, organize, advertise, and run fundraisers for the charity. I am a co-chair for the From the Heart Teen Fashion Show, and other charity events (2013-2015).  I also intern in business administration and communications for the K is for Kids Foundation. I am the top teen media Spokesperson and in October of 2014 I went to the National Publicity summit in New York City for five days and I had the opportunity to pitch the mission and goals of the K is for Kids Foundation to the top TV producers, magazine editors, and media professionals in the country. I am a cofounder of Operation: Outreach, a club for high school students offering a ladder for leaders and I helped develop program manual for Operation: Outreach.  I have served well over 300 community service hours.

Click here to read more about her accomplishment for our foundation: http://www.kisforkids.org/news/nedgie-goes-to-new-york-teen-spokesperson-for-k-is-for-kids-visits-the-big-apple/ and http://www.kisforkids.org/news/student-leaders-make-history-with-k-is-for-kids/.



Pine Ridge Middle Student & Top Voracious Reader Honoree 2014 Nominates Karen Clawson, Founder & E.D., for Naples Daily News’ “25 Over 50” 2015 Award:

“In school my teacher was talking about philanthropy and altruism. And I remembered the end of last year when I was picked out of my whole school to be honored by K is for Kids because I love to read. Karen wanted to tell me about the community service programs and leadership programs that she offered during high school that works hard to get books to all the kids in Collier County. She teaches the students in the program business skills. These are necessary to keep the book program running.  It has to be organized and there has to be a plan.

Each year, Pine Ridge Middle School Media Specialist Beth Lindenmeyer (center) selects students who are "voracious" readers and show leadership potential for K is for Kids' annual end-of-year Top (Rising) Reader Book Awards. At left is young honoree Marialaura Minnone, an eighth grader, and at right is Karen Clawson, founder and executive director of K is for Kids.

Each year, Pine Ridge Middle School Media Specialist Beth Lindenmeyer (center) selects students who are “voracious” readers and show leadership potential end-of-year Top (Rising) Reader Book Awards given by K is for Kids. Shown at left is young honoree Marialaura Minnone, an eighth grader, and at right is Karen Clawson, founder and executive director of  K is for Kids Foundation.

What I learned most from this experience with Karen is that there really are people that are kind to total strangers.  She showed me what is was like to be recognized and rewarded for me just being me. She has inspired me to work on being as selfless and generous as she is.

She spoke about being readers and leaders. She told me that Ms. Lindenmeyer had told her all about my love for reading and Karen knew that I could be a leader!  Reading is important for the mind and helps build creativity and lets you discover new passions.

I don’t know anyone else like Karen. She really does wonderful things for complete strangers and she encouraged me to do the same by reading with a young child and giving them a book mark. It isn’t that you have buy anything for them.

The most important thing is that you give your time to them to help share your passion for reading.”



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Mary Moussa served a full high school internship from K is for Kids while a senior at Gulf Coast High School and a student at Southwest Florida College. She is now attending Florida Atlantic University.

Apr 2, 2015

Dear Mrs. Clawson,

Volunteering for K is for Kids was one of the greatest learning experiences in my life. I learned so much about taking on a leadership role and also learning how to work with a team. I continue to use the skills I learned in everyday life while working with others. I now sit on an executive board for the National Society of Leadership and Success and I owe that to K is for Kids for giving me the experience needed to gain such a role. It was an honor to have been part of such a wonderful foundation and I’m excited to see all of its further success. Thank you for the amazing opportunity!

Mary Moussa






February 27, 2015


Dear little reader,

Let me start by introducing myself: My name is Brigitte. I started out just like you – A reader, A dreamer.

Books filled my vision, my future, my passion and my dreams.

I am now 23 years old, at the peak of the beginning of my career in Aviation.

It wasn’t always easy or clear where I would end up for I still continue and aspire to be more and more of all the dreams out there; however, I can tell you that once your DREAM becomes your REALITY, it is amazing!

That is not just because I am a Flight Attendant but because life experiences, choices I made,  people I have met along the way,  and  my education background has helped me see life the way it is supposed to be seen.

They tell you to keep reading, not just for the purpose of actually “reading” but to allow you to open your mind & explore every dream you have thought possible, which all starts with a single book.

My internship with K is for Kids was a blessing that I never even imagined I would be taking a part of – especially, serving as the Spokesperson back in 2013.

Up to now, K is for Kids has held a special place in my heart. With every project it continues to achieve, I am reminded of the organization and why it is important – the endless opportunities and the future leaders it continues to shape.

I wanted to write this brief letter (while I am currently inflight with nothing but a laptop, wifi, and my book) to thank the Clawson family for giving me the opportunity to help other aspiring leaders during my time with K is for Kids – a great internship and opportunity that I would never forget …even after years later and I am miles and miles away 🙂

Brigitte Papica served as one of K is for Kids’ student spokespersons while a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University. Here she is on the set of Fox 4’s Morning Blend with fellow classmate John Maloney and talk show host “Wild” Bill.

I hope that K is for Kids continues to inspire you to be great. And to whoever reads this letter, to serve as a reminder that readers DO build leaders.


An aspiring Female pilot.

[Editor’s note: Brigitte Papica is a proud graduate of Florida Gulf Coast University and now serves as one of K is for Kids’ (adult) Advisory Council members.  We couldn’t be prouder of Brigitte ourselves as she soars like an eagle into the sky.  Read more about our aspiring female pilot here http://www.kisforkids.org/about/advisory-council/]



Kids are so hungry for new books to read

and we mean big “kids” (teens), too!

Editor’s note:K is for Kids invited 22 Collier County Public Schools to come shop for new books for their student reading incentive programs through the foundation’s Rising Readers program. We received so many heartfelt testimonials from teachers and students, it’s difficult sharing them all!


Palmetto Ridge High School’s media specialist, Mary Joe Parrish, decided to share her $1,000 shopping spree for new books with the school’s teachers.  To her great surprise, when she asked if any teachers needed new books for their classroom libraries, she received more than two dozen requests! So she held a raffle.  Here’s what two of the lucky winner had to say about shopping for free new books for their students:

“The K is for Kids books are amazing!!!!

It felt like my birthday and Christmas rolled into 1!

I cannot thank you enough and I am so very happy!!!!!!!  

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!” –Briana

“I picked soooo many good reads, I am super excited to have these books. 

Thank you very much!!” — Cheryl




A Parent’s Thank You following her Daughter Receiving a Voracious Reader Book Award at Pine Ridge Middle School

[Editor’s note: The student’s and mother’s names have been omitted for privacy.]

“Mrs. Clawson,

My daughter will enter high school next year. She has always required extra help in reading as the result of ongoing chemotherapy (about ten years) that has impacted her ability to learn or retain information. Because of this, she’s always hated reading.

I was a stay at home mom for 13 years when her father decided to leave our family. As a result, I had to scramble to get a job while attending college part-time to support us. While we have everything we need and then some, there are many trips to the library.

To my great surprise, [my daughter] has developed a love for reading this year and while she is not a stellar student, she is not a poor one either.

Your generous gift has allowed kids like [my daughter] who would otherwise not be recognized for their efforts and achievements to have their dedication and tenacity recognized. She was allowed to choose books for her very own collection that she’s both proud of and excited to read over the summer.

I think our success as a family and [my child’s] as a student and the timing of your gift makes for a beautiful story and wanted to thank you for being a part of it.”


[mother’s name]

PRMS - PHOTO - Group FAVE - Book Awards Students Seated 2014 FAVE 1 copy

Students received “Voracious Reader” 2014 Book Awards from K is for Kids at Pine Ridge Middle School.

Editor’s note: K is for Kids congratulates all the honorees at Pine Ridge Middle School and extends a big “thank you” to Media Specialist Beth Lindenmeyer who secured the grant for her twenty-plus avid readers to receive K is for Kids Book Awards. The students met together and were personally congratulated by both Beth and K is for Kids founder Karen Clawson.  There were a few laughs too as each student learned how to do a “grip and grin” for the photographer as they accepted their awards. Each student received a certificate of recognition and a book bag filled with the books they had personally selected online to read over the summer.  The students also had to apply their math skills to compute the final dollar amount with which they had to shop, factoring in the discount Barnes & Noble offers to educators and nonprofits. It was a fun, memorable and educational experience for all.

About K is for Kids Rising Readers program: K is for Kids’ Rising Readers program gives books directly to students to take home and keep in order to encourage them to read more and to also recognize their reading achievements.  Students earn books throughout the year through reading incentive programs sponsored by their media specialists.  At the end of the year, K is for Kids sponsors Top Reader Book Awards. In May 2014, students in 25 Collier County schools were honored as their media specialists collaborated with principals and teachers in recognizing their reading achievements.  Parents were thrilled to learn their children were being honored!

K is for Kids’ student leaders are proud to encourage the children and fellow classmates of Collier County to read more, dream more!



Testimonials about the 3rd Annual From the Heart Teen Fashion Show 2014

February 7, 2014

“I had the amazing experience of being a small part of the K is for Kids [Teen] Fashion Show at Barron Collier High School February 1st. College and high school kids helped put the show on for the enthusiastic audience. Kids from four years old to 22 participated in the show.

Pat and Karen Clawson put in an amazing amount of leadership to make this event possible. Karen is an amazing mentor to these wonderful youngsters.

What a great evening of joy and entertainment.

Can’t wait until next year.

— R. Anthony “Bob” Black 


 Photos above: Teens showcase prom fashions – a much anticipated climax of the show. Below: Younger models are quick to steal the hearts of guests.


For more photos, click here http://www.kisforkids.org/2014-teen-fashion-show-photos/

and here http://www.kisforkids.org/news/southwest-florida-teens-walk-the-runway-for-reading-naples-daily-news-sunday-edition-features-teen-fashion-show/


Vincent Izzi

February 4, 2014

“The K is for Kids Teen Fashion Show led by our future leaders was an inspiration for all that attended this event!”

[What struck me most was] the teamwork and camaraderie among the teens along with the enthusiasm of the audience and the fun that all the kids had modeling the clothes.”

— Vin Izzi, Izzi Business Consulting and K is for Kids Director


February 3, 2014

Ooh La La screen shotOoh La La screen shot


Jamie Lebhar, Elena Paola and Braiden Howell model accessories from Ooh La La! at the 3rd Annual K is for Kids From the Heart Teen Fashion Show 2014. Note: Elena’s sister was one of three student photographers who captured the magic moments of the evening.

“What a captivating show!

The energy from the kids was electrifying – great way to showcase the outfits and accessories.

It was clear that the detail that went into this show was well thought out. The collaborative efforts between the kids and the production team kept the show fun, fast paced and exciting for the audience.

Job well done!”

— Amy Turner, Proprietor


February 2, 2014

IMG_8540v2“I loved everything about the show — I loved that there were kids of all personalities and a variety of ages [and] sizes of students that represented many schools; and the kids were involved right up through high school*.  I really loved how their personalities came through.

My mother-in-law was in tears laughing [through] the first part of the show just because the kids were so cute.

The first girl who came out and spun around brought a smile to your face and set the stage for the evening.”

Mary Kay Bernard      

Editor’s Note: Mary Kay is the mother of Ann Bernard shown singing in photograph above.  The trio won second place in the show’s talent contest. Mary Kay is also a photographer who shared her snapshots of the event with K is for Kids (including the prom photos at top). You can see more of her work by clicking on links above. The busy mom also volunteered to stamp watermarks in the pictures shot by all three student photographers of the event. (K is for Kids helps teens participating in their youth leadership programs boost their resumes and build their portfolios.)

*A team of college students volunteered throughout the project, serving as advisors to the teen leaders, and pitching in wherever help was needed.




Letter from University of Central Florida student, January 2014

I joined K is for Kids Foundation through a friend already on the Teen Advisory Team [editor’s note: the team is now called the Student Leadership Council]. As a incoming high school freshman, I was determined to get involved and to take part in as many outstanding organizations as possible. When my friend suggested coming with him to a K is for Kids meeting, I wasn’t too sure what it was about or what to expect. After, I learned that it was an organization that fostered literacy and helped give books to those with less resources. As an avid reader and “book worm” from an early age, this struck me and kindled a passion within me. Soon after, I became part of the Teen Advisory Team and began participating in the K is for Kids cause.

There were many moments that struck me during my volunteering that made all the difference. I remember particularly during one of the events, a little girl bounced lively right passed me, tightly holding her newly signed book. Right then, I realized that little girl was me. She had the same glowing face, the same beaming smile and the same entranced look in her eyes that I would get as a little girl when I received a new book. It was heart-warming to be able to share the same childhood feeling with other children. Those were the moments when I realized that the K is for Kids Foundation was making a difference, and as a volunteer, I was contributing.

Haylee, at center, stands next to her brother Matthew as the Teen Advisory Team prepared to help children write storyboards for their giant filmstrip on canvas at Naples CityFest 2010.

Heidi, at center, stands next to her brother Matthew as the Teen Advisory Team prepared to help children write storyboards for their giant filmstrip on canvas at Naples CityFest 2010.

K is for Kids, not only provided me with great memories, the foundation also provided me with many useful skills. Upon first joining, I did not have many interactive skills, particularly not with adults. This changed, however, through my experiences. I learned to come out of my comfort zone and approach others. I was taught many professional skills as well, including leadership, collaboration, communication, problem solving and many more. Overall, I gained very valuable knowledge that I believe has prepared me for the social and professional world.

The couple years I volunteered with K is for Kids was both fun and educational. The K is for Kids Foundation opened a whole new door for me. My only wish is for other teens to realize what a great opportunity this foundation is and join too. For those who do join, I hope that they make as many amazing memories and friends as I did during my involvement with the K is for Kids Foundation.

— Heidi Waite




A Note from St. John Neumann student volunteer (shown 2nd from left in photo below)

Editor’s Note: On November 13th, a team of St. John Neumann students visited Brightest Horizons for a special storytime and book giveaway.  Our deep appreciation to author Juliana Howard for donating her children’s book “Catie the Copycat” so that every child could take it home for keeps!

Brightest Horizons SJN FGCU Fave PHOTO

1_ADD WM_FAVE_3teenswithkids_2013-11-14 16.35.11See video “Teens on a Mission” produced by Ryan Fricke, a senior and journalism major at Florida Gulf Coast University

http://www.kisforkids.org/photos-videos/ or on YouTube  target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>

Jordan shares her experience:

Testimonial_Teen_JordanDennis Jordan is shown in left photo second from right and at left in photo at right.

To students: “K is for Kids is such a great organization to get involved with not only for the
service hours but because it is such a  great experience! Reading to the little second and third graders made me so happy, especially seeing a smile on their faces. I love K is for Kids because you can get involved in little service projects that make someone else’s day by just one simple gesture. I will most definitely volunteer for K is for Kids again in the future!”

To adults: “K is for Kids is a unique nonprofit organization helping both kids and our future leaders. Volunteers help engage young readers in a love for reading. Not only are they helping these children, but also earning community service hours and becoming role models to their community. The teens and growing readers both have a blast doing what they love to do.”

— Jordan Dennis



Barron Collier High School Teacher Shares Feedback from Students


Kelly Wilson, Barron Collier High School teacher of entrepreneurship, business, digital design and accounting, is honored with K is for Kids’ Shining Star Award 2012 for her outstanding contributions to the foundation’s literacy and leadership programs for Collier County students.

The feedback that I have received from students involved with K is for Kids has been awesome. Planning an event from start to finish is a huge undertaking. Students that get involved have the opportunity to develop skills that will benefit them for the rest of their life. Being a responsible person is an important life skill. This event will give kids the chance to prove that they can be assigned a task and see it through to the
end. Being a part of something that gives back shows great character in a person. Every role is an important one because without each piece of the puzzle being put in its place the show wouldn’t go on.

K is for Kids gives you the opportunity to be a LEADER! Make the most of the experience.

— Kelly Wilson

Barron Collier High School Business Department

Kelly with Donna Matthews of Southwest Florida Modeling Agency.

Kelly Wilson, Barron Collier High School business teacher with Donna Matthews of Southwest Florida Modeling & Talent Agency.

Shown at right: At the From the Heart Teen Fashion Festival, Kelly accepts K is for Kids’ Shining Star Award 2012 in recognition of her important role as teacher liaison for the students’ countywide community project promoting literacy and leadership. Sponsored by K is for Kids and Barron Collier High School in collaboration with Collier County Public Schools, the creative fun’raiser and teen charity event draws students of all ages from across Collier County.  Kelly is widely known for her tireless commitment to her students – in addition to her full teaching schedule, she is the teacher representative for several after school programs as well.




Facebook Fan cheers our efforts

Karen D. Clawson who was recognized as a PBS “Maker” for our area of USA, which is SW Florida… down in the Everglades… also referred to as Naples Fl , created this awesome program for developing children in the right way !!

Making reading Fun !! and participating in it with their Whole Selves for Expression. Karen having grown up in a the world of publishing and printing was surprised when her kids started the local public schools [and needed new] books in the libraries…

Karen went about fixing this problem and working to get people to donate books to the public school libraries etc. Then HOW to Make Reading Fun in a land with Media dominating… and kids memorized by TV and now of course computer games etc… Her foundation K is for Kids blossomed…

Karen has done a awesome job in building this….I have watched her nurture this foundation into exponential growth matching up college students, high school students with engaging the young kids…all learning from each other !! Paying it forward is so rare today, especially [with] such personal involvement [that] K is for Kids shows clearly.

— Cassandra Rose



FGCU Student Volunteers

Volunteering for K is for Kids was a blast. We went to Brightest Horizons to read to the kids as well as donate books. That was my first time really interacting with kids on that level where they would come up to you and ask if you could read them a book. It was all a new experience for me and it couldn’t have gone any better than it did. I think there should be more organizations like K is for Kids. The joy that the kids had when they received the books was more than anyone can ask for. I honestly enjoyed my time volunteering at K is for Kids and I would have to say that the highlight of it all was being able to talk to the kids and just interacting with them.

— Leonardo Garcia

T3ql9uAKnty5hExXEf0qj_2O71QdrE2_YuOmKlQzDzM Working with K is for Kids was a good experience. One of the events that I participated in with K is for Kids was going to Brightest Horizons and spending a few hours with the children there. It was very enjoyable. The children were a delight and Mrs. Clawson was very supportive. Being there and seeing what K is for Kids does for kids was a unique experience. Simply giving a child a book made them so happy. Working with K is for Kids for the past 5 weeks has been a very beneficial experience. K is for Kids is a wonderful organization with a noble cause.

— Jessica DiazSzGjt3hbwpw2F5J49jEmUHcI9M72PSoBl2y0m2MfiDY



Lake Trafford Elementary, Immokalee

Karen: Thank you for your support with the books. The kids really enjoyed them! LTES_PHOTO_GroupOf6_withBooks_byDanielPerez




— Daniel A. Perez

Media Specialist & BTC Lake Trafford Elementary _________________________________


Lely Elementary

Karen, as our school year comes to a close, I just wanted to say THANK YOU! We were able to send a book home with each student for summer reading!This would NOT have been possible without your efforts and dedication to all of the kids in Naples!!It was great meeting you and visiting the warehouse for the “goods”! Enjoy some great reads this summer and I’m hopeful our paths will cross again soon.


Miffy Ruggiero

Media Specialist Lely Elementary



Village Oaks Elementary, Immokalee


We are honoring all primary grade students who met their reading goal this quarter. Students attended a carnival and received a free book thanks to you. You rock!

— Shirley Rainwaters, Ed. S.

VOE Media Specialist

Read as if the text is gold, read with heart & soul. —Lucy Calkins Photos by Ruth Conly



Golden Terrace Elementary Primary

May 29, 2013 Hi Karen! These are pics from our TOP READER celebration last week. Each teacher chose their highest reading student to participate. We sent out 32 invitations-one for each k, 1, and 2nd grade class. We had treats, certificates, a bookmark making station, and of course books! Each child received two books and as you can see from the pictures, they were thrilled!! Thank you for providing us the means to celebrate our highest achieving students!

— Joyce Cordell

Media GTE





Golden Gate High

May 31, 2013


Dear K is for Kids, Thank you so much for providing my school with new books. I chose the book Matched by Allie Condie and it exceeded my expectations. The mix between action and romance was perfect. I found myself lost in the book to the point where I thought I was trapped in the protagonist’s totalitarian society myself. It not only entertained me, but also provided me with the opportunity make connections in my AICE International History class about how the book’s government is to similar totalitarian countries that exist in real life. The book was so amazing that I had recommended and pass it on to pass it on to my friend, Yolna, who at this point, is enjoying it herself. I am now hooked on the “Matched” trilogy and can’t wait to get the next book. Once again, I thank you for donating books to Golden Gate High School. I truly appreciate it!





Brenda Hawkins

Brenda Hawkins
Public Relations & Communications Consultant

Karen Clawson is a dynamo, whose unflagging commitment to the cause of delivering books to children in extra-traditional reading spaces through the efforts of a teen volunteer program is clearly obvious.

Having created the non-profit foundation, K is for Kids, for this purpose, Karen has made her mark on the community by mobilizing kids, creativity and connections to build an army of volunteers and donors. Her ability to multi-task is a phenomenon rarely seen; Karen is known for nothing, if not her energy, enthusiasm and devotion to instilling literacy wherever and whenever possible.

Recommendation posted on Linkedin May 13, 2013



Golden Terrace Elementary Primary

Testamonial_GTES-Primary_ThankYou_Letter_JoyceCordellApril 5, 2013

Dear K is for Kids Foundation,

I am writing to express my sincere gratitude for the many wonderful contributions you have bestowed upon our students at Golden Terrace Elementary School. A special thank you goes to Karen Clawson for your energetic and enthusiastic devotion to improving the lives of our young readers. As a new Media Specialist I was so grateful for your guidance and support.

K is for Kids Foundation provided free books to every one of our students. This event generated a great deal of excitement and interest in reading. [Editor’s note: Read how our Rising Readers program treated students to a “Big Book Giveaway”.] By providing books as awards, the Foundation also enabled me to start a reading incentive program that recognizes students for their efforts. In addition, grant funds from Friends of the school Library allowed me to add some much needed new titles to our school library.

I am so thankful to K is for Kids Foundation for all of these generous gifts. Most of all, I am thankful to the Foundation for helping me promote and inspire a love of reading in all our students.


Joyce Cordell

Media Specialists GTE-N [Primary]


Manatee Elementary School

April 3, 2013 Greetings! Testamonial_MES_ThankYou_GoldenReaders_Table First graders are thrilled with our Golden Books as the looks on their faces show. We, at MES, are interested in receiving more Golden Books if possible. The students love them! Your generosity is overwhelming and we appreciate the wonderful books we receive from you. Testamonial_MES_ThankYou_GoldenReaders_Students   We used golden tickets as bookmarks. What a treat! —- ML Bryan

MES Media Specialist ______________________________________________________________


Manatee Middle School

March 4, 2013 Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to Karen Clawson for her hard work resulting in a generous donation of books to the Manatee Middle School Media Center. I have so many students who are eager to read the books she has raised for our library, and I can’t wait to share the photos of their smiling faces when they check them out! Much appreciation for Karen Clawson and all her magnificent efforts to support kids in need of books!


Kathleen Dougherty

Manatee Middle School ______________________________________________________________


Student Intern & K is for Kids Spokesperson, Florida Gulf Coast University

February 18, 2013

John Maloney and Brigitte Papica, K is for Kids Spokespersons and FGCU interns pose with Wild Bill of the Fox 4 Morning Blend show.

“If you can change a chapter in your life what would it be?” “Nothing because my life is an endless story & there’s more chapters to unfold.”

This year definitely made me take chances, dream bigger, and achieve more. Especially, making big decisions with opportunities I’ve been given. It has been a blessing to work for K is for Kids, serving as their spokesperson as well as interning and working directly with children and inspiring them to become better leaders, and I would like to thank Karen D. Clawson for giving me these wonderful opportunities to showcase my talents and abilities and helping me further my knowledge in the business world 🙂

The primary goal to inspire others through the power of reading and books took me back to my childhood and what I’ve wanted out of life. & it’s Simply Amazing ♥ #goKisForKids #memories4life #dream #makeithappen”

— John Maloney



K is for Kids spokesperson and FGCU intern

winter 2013 (facebook post) and below, post on WGCU MAKERS: Women who make Southwest Florida, http://news.wgcu.org/post/karen-clawson

“I am so glad to have interned for K is for Kids and be able to walk away with a great deal of knowledge working in the business aspect as the learning experience through this internship 🙂 I have learned numerous set of skills including working under pressure and being cautious of deadlines and ensuring that projects are met to the best of my ability.

This internship has allowed me to reach my primary goal of becoming a better leader as well as allowing me to have met such a wonderful mentor such as Mrs. Karen Clawson. She has given me the opportunity to figure out my strengths and weaknesses and has helped me develop and broaden those skills especially in communications. One of the main thing we learn in my public relations courses at Florida Gulf Coast University major is how to ensure that we communicate our ideas effectively.

I have experienced and have learned firsthand about the importance of paying attention to details and how to identify and manage the different needs of the groups and/ or certain individuals that may need extra help. Working within deadlines have allowed me to realize just how much I love my major and just how much I grew from this internship experience.


Wild Bill, the popular co-host of Fox 4’s Morning Blend, interviews K is for Kids spokespersons and FGCU interns John Maloney and Brigitte Papica.

When I was asked if I wanted to be a spokesperson and appear on television for Fox Morning Blend, I was very hesitant at first and did not realize of my potential. With the show and just preparing for the big day at Fox, I have been able to speak with confidence and create memories working for this nonprofit organization.


K is for Kids Spokesperson and FGCU Intern Brigitte Papica stands with K is for Kids Founder and Executive Director Karen Clawson at K is for Kids’ Big Book Giveaway at Golden Terrace Elementary School.

The best memory I have with working with K is for Kids aside from working closely with Mrs. Clawson and the student teens is the opportunity I had the day we visited Golden Terrace Elementary. Seeing the children’s faces lit up each time their teacher walked them to the bookmobile was just amazing to see and was unforgettable. I truly believe in the power of books and the knowledge and excitement it gives to a child each time they open one up. There was not one kid who was not satisfied that day because all of them got to keep a book to take home and share with their families. I was asked by one of the students on what I do as an intern and how college is and I can honestly say my heart melted hearing that question.


Students show off the news books they just selected from the Big Rig Bookmobile with (l-r) GTE-Intermediate’s Media Specialist Tiffany Weeks, K is for Kids Founder and Executive Director Karen Clawson, and Brigitte Papica.

I know as a communication major, one of the reasons why I decided to be in this field is to be able to share my experiences with others as well as tell my stories in order to inspire and motivate each individual to do more and to always remember that “nothing is impossible.”

K is for Kids is one of the best non-profit organizations I’ve grown to love working with and I wish that others will get the chance to intern or even just volunteer for this organization as it is a teen volunteer driven organization that works for the kids and by the kids. There is never a day without books, reading, and leaders that make it all happen for this organization and I am really glad I was a part of this growing nonprofit.”

— Brigitte Papica



Golden Terrace Elementary Intermediate

Letter to the Editor of the Naples Daily News published January 31, 2013 [photos added here] “Read all about it”

“On Jan. 17 and 18, Golden Terrace Elementary celebrated literacy week with a very special event. [Editor’s note: The event also celebrated the launch of K is for Kids’ “Bring a Book, Bring a Friend for Children’s Literacy Month in Collier County as well.] K is for Kids Foundation sponsored a “Big Book Giveaway” for our students, bringing in over 7,000 books to our school with the help of a huge tractor-trailer truck, the Big Rig Bookmobile. 6_Fave1_CloseUp_Colors_Signk4kids_Teacher_Karen_Kids_Books_IMG_4741 Each student signed a reading pledge, promising to read every day. Then they were allowed to board the big rig and choose a book of their very own from shelves of donated books. About 1,000 books valued at $5,000 were given away. 12_BigBookGiveaway_GTES_2boysWithBooks_byGavinVary Being able to climb aboard the bookmobile and hear the Big Rig toot its impressive horn and choose a book to keep provided memories that will stay with these children for the rest of their lives!

Karen Clawson of K is for Kids and her teen volunteers worked countless hours collecting and sorting the donated books for this event. Brigitte Papica and Gavin Vary, Florida Gulf Coast University interns for K is for Kids, helped students.

John and Kathy Gervase prepared their big rig and rolled it into town to help K is for Kids launch its own literacy month this February.

On behalf of the students and staff at Golden Terrace, I would like to give a big thank you to all those who helped make this event possible!

K is for Kids has been supporting literacy initiatives at GTE for the last few years through its Rising Readers and Friends of the School Library programs. We are so very grateful!

Please visit the K is for Kids website to learn more about this fabulous organization at http://www.kisforkids.org/”

— Tiffany Weeks

Naples Media Specialist, Golden Terrace Elementary



FGCU Student Volunteer

November 30, 2012

“To the amazing Karen Clawson,

Megan with youngster at RCMA. K is for Kids’ student volunteers from FGCU visited youngsters to deliver books collected by Starbucks-Collier County, read stories, listen as the students read aloud, and help with homework.

I want to thank you so much for such a successful semester. I enjoyed every moment I spent with you on our Civic Engagement Project. You provided us with such great leadership and support that made this project so much fun. You are such a wonderful individual and leader in the community and I appreciate all of your time and effort you put into this project. I have always been afraid of being in front of the camera but you brought out another confident side in me and I cannot thank you enough. Please let me know about events in the future that you would like my help with. I am so blessed to have met you. Thank you so much, Megan Van Etten —— RE: FGCU Volunteers Visit Children at RCMA http://www.kisforkids.org/news/fgcu-volunteers-make-young-friends-at-rcma/ October 18, 2012 Hi Karen, The pictures are adorable and I really enjoyed myself yesterday! The kids are such shining stars and put an instant smile on my face. It was great! Please let me know of any other volunteer opportunities such like this because I really enjoyed it! Thank you so much, Megan Post script October 24th ——————————— Hi Mrs. Clawson, I just want to thank you for all of your help today. I really appreciate your letting us use your computer and wonderful knowledge to create amazing videos fro children and our careers. You are such a kind, generous lady and I feel so blessed to be working with you and K is for Kids on this Civic Engagement project. Sylvie, John, and I really appreciate all of your guidance with this project and we look forward to working with you more in the next few weeks. Thank you so much and I am so glad we chose to work with K is for Kids 🙂 Thank you, Megan _____________________________________________________________


Brightest Horizons Child Development Center


We are so thankful to Mrs. Karen and all the caring volunteers at K is for Kids for selecting the children at Brightest Horizons to receive all sorts of books to take home! Brightest Horizons also received a gift certificate to Barnes & Noble for more educational items!

We Love K is for Kids!

— at Brightest Horizons Child Development Center.




October 7, 2012

Karen, I have been reflecting on my many observations over the years. I am not sure that there has been anyone as dedicated as you in improving the lives of so many. K is for Kids is making it a better world, with benefits that will never end.

Author Robert Dean Bair

The time and financial support that has been possible with the support of Pat, Erin and Patrick [your family] and your effort cannot be measured. And your concern and support of others…can never be repaid. Thank you and may God continue to bless you and your family.

Stay safe,

Robert Dean Bair

Author of Cloisters of Canterbury and Peace at Lambeth Bridge ____________________________________________________________


Immokalee High School

August 20, 2012

The book giveaway went awesome!! I had about 7 books left. I’ve added those books to my class library!!

Thanks so much again…. I love what you’re doing for kids.

Sharing the wealth of reading: Our 2012 “Big Book Giveaway” was an unprecedented event for Collier County educators and students, thanks to the 10,000-book donation from the Book Warehouse upon its closing, rooms donated by Cypress Self Storage, bookshelves donated by Target-Collier and Lee Counties, Northside Naples Kiwanis Club, AMI Kids-Ft. Myers, Best Buy and its Tag Team, K is for Kids’ teen leaders, Publix, Barnes & Nobles Booksellers and Trader Joe’s.

— Dazra McDonald

9th Grade English, Immokalee High School, selected books for her own “book giveaway” so her students would have new books to read over the summer.



Student Leader & K is for Kids Spokesperson, Gulf Coast High

January 5, 2012

“When I first got involved with K is for Kids Foundation, I looked at it as an easy way to get my volunteer hours out of the way. I soon realized that this experience would benefit me in so many ways and give me skills I can use for the rest of my life.

What I liked most about volunteering for K is for Kids is how it allowed me to understand different components of running a business …. I realized the importance of communicating with everyone and publicizing events….

It was amazing to see how much this organization grew during the time I was involved, and this showed me that when you persevere, you can take small ideas a long way.

K is for Kids was an invaluable experience for me, and I hope that many more teens are able to have the same experience as I had as the foundation continues to grow and bring awareness to a great cause.”

Matthew and two other Gulf Coast High School Sharks football players worked with Video Production students to film a video encouraging elementary school students to “Power up with Reading!”

Matt joins other K is for Kids Teen Spokespersons as producer Chuck Ardezzone of ITZ Media Group helps them prepare for filming several PSAs for the Foundation at the production studio of SWFL Charity TV. A warm thank you to Comcast for sponsoring K is for Kids Foundation and airing the PSAs.

— Matthew Colligan

Editor’s Note: Matt was one of K is for Kids’ top teen leaders 2009-12 and amongst our first “class” of graduating seniors.

Matthew graduated Valedictorian, Class of 2012 at Gulf Coast High School and will be attending University of Pennsylvania this fall. Congratulations, Matthew!

To see the video of the Gulf Coast High School Sharks Football Players for younger students and other videos by our teen spokespersons, click here: http://www.kisforkids.org/photos-videos/ or view them on YouTube: http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2011/nov/08/gchs-sharks-football-players-team-up-with-tv-produ/


Mantee Elementary

Mantee Elementary School students in grades 3, 4, 5

“Hip! Hip! Hooray! We’re off to wonderful reading places In our hearts K is for Kids Foundation will stay!

We love our books and treat them nice Books that give us information and sizzle with spice.

Our thanks we send and warm wishes too For all the folks who made our dreams come true!

With books! Lots of books! Wonderful books!

I couldn’t resist writing a poem in the spirit of Dr. Seuss! We treasure our new books and our excitement grows more and more each day.

Thanks again,

— Mary L. Bryan

Media Specialist, Manatee Elementary South


Golden Gate Elementary

April 4, 2012

K is for Kids’ Big Book Giveaway for Lee and Collier County educators featured a raffle for a Trader Joe’s shopping bag overflowing with tasty treats. The popular store recently opened in Naples. L-R: Karen Clawson, founder and executive director of K is for Kids Foundation; Rebecca Endrelunas, media specialist, Gulf Coast High School; raffle winner Marcia Kolmann, media specialist, Golden Gate Elementary School; Ashley Bagley, Best Bag Tag Team volunteer; Steven Banks, Property Manager, Cypress Self Storage; Danielle Toms, Director of Business Development, Mindful Management

Thank you for the book opportunities that you have delivered to the schools of Collier County.

Also thank you for the surprise of the TRADER JOE raffle bag of delicious goodies that I was most fortunate to win. My husband and I are enjoying all of the treats!

Happy Springtime and again many thanks for recognizing the job that we do as Library Media Specialists and encouraging all kids to read!

–Marcia Kolmann

Media Specialist, Golden Gate Elementary

Listen to what other educators had to say by clicking on link below, “Big Book Giveaway: Teachers Shop for Free Books for Students” “>



Farm Worker Village, Collier County Housing Authority

February 22, 2012

Dear Karen:

We cannot even begin to express how appreciative we are of you and the tremendous amount of work and effort that you and your organization put in helping made the reading event at Farm Worker Village spectacular. The authors were great in sharing their stories and as seen through the laughter, comments and pictures afterwards, everyone, children and parents alike, were having so much fun.

We are so appreciative of others, like yourself, who share the same belief that exposure to books and the love of reading will help these children be more successful in school and will make such an impact that it will break the cycle of illiteracy in generations to come.

We look forward to continuing to partner with K is for Kids Foundation at future events and bringing the love of reading to children.


Esmeralda Serrata

PHM Executive Director, Collier County Housing Authority



Village Oaks Elementary


Link here to read it on naplesnews.com http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2011/dec/24/no-headline—nuts_and_stars_edits/


“3D Read Aloud”

Mission Completed!

December 1, 2011

Village Oaks Elementary, Immokalee

Through the K is for Kids foundation “Rising Readers” program, the entire second grade at Village Oaks Elementary were able to enjoy a 3D read aloud with Library Media Specialist, Stephanie Griffin. Each second grade child received their own 3D book, which included two pairs of cool blue character 3D glasses.

Students were rewarded for their “pawsome” success in the new independent reading program Reading Counts. Teachers have established goals and the students have been working hard this second quarter on reading and achieving.

Mrs. Griffin gathered four second grade classes with a total of seventy-seven students in the media center to celebrate their accomplishments. She praised them for their hard work and dedication to being top readers, then discussed the importance of reading and the ultimate benefits as long-life readers. Before reading the book, she asked her young enthusiastic audience “What does 3D mean?” and up went a few hands. One little girl called out, “Three dimensional!” Mrs. Griffin replied “That’s right and how very smart you are!”

She then continued reading aloud the 3D book to the students while discussing the visual elements of a three dimensional book and its special effects. The students were engaged while she read and very excited.

After the event the students practiced their writing skills by writing thank you letters to the Foundation. “K is for Kids has allowed the opportunity to touch seventy-seven children and beyond. Each has made a pledge to continue reading and sharing their books with family and friends,” said Mrs. Griffin. “Students still continue to come into the media center and tell me how much they enjoyed the read aloud and 3D book.”

Mrs. Griffin continued to say that she feels this type of reward and celebration will last a lifetime and will be one that the children will not forget. Mrs. Griffin says that she and Karen Clawson, Founder & Executive Director of K is for Kids, share the same feelings: “We are both are very passionate about instilling the love of reading in our young children and allowing the opportunity to have new books in their hands.”

She went on to add “Every day I am able to touch the lives and hearts of children through books. That’s the most moving and exciting part of my job.”

Mrs. Griffin concluded by saying she believes K is for Kids is a wonderful organization that truly cares about our communities and literacy.



K is for Kids Student Leader, Gulf Coast High School

Teen Testimonial, November 2010

Haylee, at center, stands next to her brother Matthew as the Teen Advisory Team prepared to help children write storyboards for their giant filmstrip on canvas at Naples CityFest 2010.

[I’m] thanking you for this incredible experience and for directing such a great foundation. 🙂 It was very fun! Can’t wait until the next event!! -Heidi

Note: Heidi has served on the Teen Advisory Team from 2010-12.



Young Author Parent Elizabeth Stone, March 2010

March 2010

“I wanted to tell you how impressed I was with the teenagers who were volunteering at your “Kids Celebrate Reading!” Book Fair at Barnes & Noble – there were so polite and patient with the children while they were having their face painted and writing stories. They were an interesting group to speak with and everything. They just seemed to be really focused on their purpose for being there. What a great job they did!

The staff in the store were very polite and reception to our presence in the store and very accommodating.

I was so pleased my daughters were able to get their photo taken for your young authors books and that my oldest daughter got a chance to write a story.”

— Elizabeth Stone




Guest Author

Bring a Book, Bring a Friend® Fun’raiser benefiting the Village School, Spring 2006


It was so nice seeing you and being exposed to the passion that you have for children’s need for books. So many give lip service, but you are actually contributing to children that you will never know.

God bless. Looking forward to your big event in September…. — Bob

— Robert Dean Bair

Author of the Rob Royal series, “Cloisters of Canterbury” and “Peace at Lambeth Bridge”



Facebook Fan

“I am excited for you. I know it will be a great success for you this weekend….

You are a wonderful woman to work so smart to help the kids. I am impressed with your skills to help in public education for all.


Mary Will Gross on Facebook



Young Author Parent

Comment on news item

“Dear Karen,

My daughter and I participated in your wonderful event last year at Barnes and Noble and are interested in the book she had written a page. This was great fun for all!!!

I was so thrilled to donate all our books that we have outgrown to such a wonderful organization.”

— Liza Buffington Smith

In March 2012, Liza added,

“Aidan received a ‘6’ on her essay for Collier Writes, the highest score possible!

I attribute her love of writing stories to being in your Young Authors book.”



Immokolee Housing & Family

Special thanks to Target at North Naples for donating the shopping bags to carry all the books to the kids.

Hello Mrs. Clawson,

Thank you SO MUCH for the books. The children are very excited.

Please let me know what I can do for you as we continue our new friendship.

Take care,

Thanks again!

— Lynn Bowen



Fun Time Early Learning Academy

Hi Karen,

I saw these online.  What darling photos.

Thanks so much for taking care of our children. They do love their books. Your teens were patient and nurturing to the children. A great time for all alike and books to last forever.

You are dear!

— Franny

Click on the photos by Lexey Swall to see at naplesnews.com



Lake Trafford Elementary & Manatee Elementary

A letter to the editor published in the Naples Daily News, Perspective section by from Linda Pattyson, then media specialist at Lake Trafford Elementary School in Immokalee,

Photo below by Sheila Collins, media specialist, Manatee Elementary School of young students getting their first glimpse of their new books from K is for Kids Foundation.

Click here to read the full stor

2 Responses to Three Guests Authors appear at Kids Celebrate Reading! Book Fair sponsored by K is for Kids®

  1. Dear Karen, My daughter and I participated in your wonderful event last year at Barnes and Noble and are interested in the book she had written a page. This was great fun for all!!! I was so thrilled to donate all our books that we have outgrown to such a wonderful organization. When will the “Young Authors Book” be available?

  2. kdclawson says:

    Hey Liz,

    Did you receive our emails this last summer linking you to the book online? I will re-send if you didn’t on Monday, right after our “Films & Flavors on 5th” event wraps up.

    Hope to see you and your daughter there!

    Sincerely yours,
    Karen C.