AART Invites Community to Celebrate Reading with Annual Read Across AART Event

AART was elated to host its annual Read Across AART event celebrating the joy of reading with our students and our community. We welcomed so many amazing changemakers in our community to read with our students and inspire them to grow and learn. Our visitors enjoyed reading “Circles” and learning about how to expand our circle of friends within our community.

A huge thank you to all of the folks who took the time to inspire our students:

  • Krystal and Sanya, Sony
  • Miriam Timmons Turner, St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church
  • Marcia St. John-Cunning, Fairfax County School Board
  • IIryong Moon, Fairfax County School Board
  • Ryan McElveen, Fairfax County School Board
  • Karl Frisch, Fairfax County School Board
  • Gregory Roberts, AART Board Member
  • Peter Knapp, AART Board Member
  • Wallicia Gill, AART Board Member

We are already so excited for next year’s Read Across AART!



Celebrating Mariana Ippolito

This year, AART suffered a deep loss with the passing of our Board Treasurer, Mariana Ippolito. 

As our Board Treasurer of over six years, Mariana greatly influenced  AART’s ability to act to the utmost benefit of our students and their families. She approached her work with genuine care for its greater impact on her community and more than anything – beyond the reports and budgeting – Mariana was known for her kindness and empathy.

Before joining the AART family, Mariana was an accomplished scholar and brilliant accountant. Consistently demonstrating her dedication to being a lifelong learner, she achieved both a Master’s in Economics before marrying her husband Juan Jose and moving to the United States to achieve her Master’s of Business Administration. Mariana worked as both an economist and an accountant before becoming CFO at Credit Builder’s Alliance and finally landing as Business Consulting Manager at Ernst and Young. She was always expanding her understanding of her field, improving her skills and finding where she could do the most good.

Her passion for education was amplified with the arrival of their two children, Nico and Isabella. Education was foundational for both of them, and now, as young adults, they too care deeply about both pursuing their education and serving their community.

Mariana’s involvement with AART began as a volunteer at the Lincolnia Community Center class in  Alexandria, that now is named in her honor, and grew into a position as AART’s Board Treasurer. As Board Treasurer, she was a driving force behind the organization’s fiscal infrastructure growth. Mariana also worked tirelessly to identify opportunities to serve more children and ultimately helped build stability and trust with our community and the families we serve. When asked to recall her favorite memory of Mariana, our Executive Director, Michelle, remembered “our discussions that often began with a pertinent fiscal development and burgeoned into a full-scale discussion of the latest class activities and an interest in seeing any photos I might have from the classes. We could sit and talk for hours on a Friday night.”

Her support of the organization was demonstrated at every level, from regular donations and volunteering to assisting with our annual fundraisers. Mariana’s favorite event was our annual Halloween Hoedown. She loved watching others connect with AART’s mission and knew that every dollar earned from this event was going towards changing a student’s life for the better.  She and her husband, Juan Jose, always sponsored the hoedown and brought new people to the event to showcase the organization’s work. 


Mariana’s involvement with nearly every aspect of the organization and her deep personal understanding of the cause made her an invaluable team member and a shining example of the power of one person making a difference in their community. 

In a final note on what Mariana’s relationship with AART meant to her, Michelle had this to say:

“As a passionate advocate for providing free preschool to underserved children, Mariana brought boundless energy, compassion, and expertise to her board position as Treasurer. Her commitment to ensuring every child had access to quality early education was truly inspiring … her legacy is woven into the fabric of All Ages Read Together, and her impact will be felt for generations to come. Mariana leaves behind a profound void, but her spirit of generosity and advocacy will continue to guide and inspire us as we strive to fulfill the mission she held so dear.”



All Ages Read Together Featured as Part of Spur Local (Formally Catalogue for Philanthropy) Class of 2023

All Ages Read Together (AART) is excited to announce its selection as a critical local nonprofit in the greater Washington D.C. area!

Spur Local, previously known as Catalog for Philanthropy, recently announced their 2023 class, highlighting the greater D.C. region’s most impactful nonprofit organizations. All Ages Read Together, providing critical free preschool programs to underserved communities in Northern Virginia, is honored to be included in this year’s class, among a host of organizations who are also making waves in their communities. 

Michelle Sullivan, AART’s Executive Director, notes that “for the last several years, we have been positioning AART for strategic growth. I can see a path forward that will allow us to fill a critical gap in early childhood education access for children and families in need.”

With the support from our community and Spur Local, AART plans to expand and improve opportunities for early childhood education across the region and beyond, giving every child the chance to get a head start building foundational skills for a successful future.


AART is Now Enrolling for Fall!


All Ages Read Together is now enrolling for new classes beginning September 2021 in Alexandria, Herndon, Leesburg, and Sterling! All classes will follow CDC guidelines and masks will be required for everyone.

AART is designed for children who fall in the gap between those who qualify for publicly funded programs, such as Head Start, and those families who cannot afford preschool.

This program will help get your child ready for kindergarten and is completely free. Children must be 4 or 5-years old and not enrolled in any other preschool program, Head Start, Step, or PreK.

Complete our interest form today to connect with an assistant!

AART is Now Enrolling Summer Kindergarten Readiness Classes in Loudoun County!

All Ages Read Together is now enrolling preschool readiness classes for rising kindergarteners who have no preschool experience. This is specifically for families located in Leesburg or Sterling.

Priority will be given to students entering kindergarten in Fall 2021 at Sugarland, Sterling, and Leesburg Elementary. 

When: June 29th – July 29th
Days: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
Time: Morning or Afternoon, 2 hours each class

Please fill out our interest form to be contacted by one of our teachers.  This program will help to get your child ready for kindergarten.

¡Todas las Edades Leen Juntas (All Ages Read Together: “AART”) ahora está inscribiendo clases de preparación preescolar para los estudiantes de kindergarten en ascenso que no tienen experiencia preescolar. Esto es específicamente para familias ubicadas en Leesburg o Sterling.

Se dará prioridad a los estudiantes que ingresen al jardín de infantes en el otoño de 2021 en las escuelas primarias Sugarland, Sterling y Leesburg.

Cuándo: 29 de junio – 29 de julio
Días: martes, miércoles y jueves
Hora: Mañana o Tarde, 2 horas cada clase.

Por favor complete nuestro formulario de interés para ser contactado por uno de nuestros maestros. Este programa ayudará a preparar a su hijo para el kindergarten.

AART Partners with the Dulles Greenway in Family-Friendly Race

The Dulles Greenway is hosting its inaugural Run the Greenway Race on May 1, 2021. This family-friendly event provides a socially distant convening opportunity and fundraising vehicle for All Ages Read Together and other participating Loudoun County, Virginia organizations.

“The Dulles Greenway is committed to serving the Loudoun community and we are honored to directly support the positive contributions that our charity partners are making in our local community during this difficult time,” said TRIP II CEO Renée N. Hamilton. “We are excited to welcome the region’s runners and their families to the first annual Run the Greenway race and we are pleased to be able to offer our nonprofit partners a powerful fundraising platform that will help them advance their important work.”

AART has registered a growing team of runners and walkers to join our team! You can join us by going to http://bit.ly/jointeamaart!

“AART is absolutely thrilled to be invited to participate in this inaugural event,” said AART Executive Director, Michelle Sullivan. “100% of the donations raised will go directly to our summer classes in Loudoun County, which is truly the last chance for children entering kindergarten to be prepared and ready to succeed. We are looking forward to seeing everyone who is walking or running for Team AART!”

The Run the Greenway race will start and finish at the Dulles Greenway’s Mainline Toll Plaza. Runners and walkers can choose a 5K or 10K distance, there will also be an 800-meter Kids Fun Run and a virtual race option. Race participants will join their community in celebrating the Dulles Greenway’s 25th anniversary of connecting Loudoun County to the Washington Metropolitan region.

Whether you are a walker or runner, here in the DMV or virtual, you can support AART by joining our team https://bit.ly/jointeamaart.

Every registration includes a Run the Greenway race shirt and a fundraising page where runners can raise funds for the local charity of their choice. 

For more information about Run the Greenway, please visit https://bit.ly/jointeamaart or contact AART info at allagesreadtogether.org.

AART Partners with Target Circle!

We are honored and excited to announce that we have been chosen to participate in a special charitable giving campaign, sponsored and funded by Target. And you have a chance to help direct a portion of Target’s donation to us!

Now through June 30, 2021, vote for us through the Target Circle program to help determine how Target’s donation will be divvied up. Find out more about Target Circle here: www.target.com/circle

We’re asking our supporters to help us make the most of this incredible opportunity. Every vote counts to help us receive a portion of the available Target funds as we continue our mission to provide free preschool education to at-risk children in our community.

Don’t forget, as you earn more votes, you can keep voting multiple times during the campaign!

Thank you for your support, and we encourage you to share your support for us (and your thanks to Target!) on social media throughout the duration of the voting!

Calling all AART Superheroes!

As we begin the preparations for restarting our in-person classes, we are putting together a series of health protocols to help keep our teaching staff, volunteers, and students safe.

Everyone in the classroom will be required to wear a mask, which brings a new set of challenges for our young learners.

“Being able to see the mouth is critical for early learners” shared Michelle Sullivan, Executive Director. “They need to see the shape our lips make when we speak sounds so they know the shape to make when they are speaking. We have been on the hunt for a creative solution and found a mask that was originally designed for deaf and hard of hearing individuals, which has see-through plastic around the mouth!”

AART is reaching out to our community to see if you may be interested in helping us by either creating the masks (we will provide the pattern) or donating to the materials fund.

You will be helping the littlest members in your community continue their learning in a safe environment!

If you want to CREATE masks, you can visit: https://bit.ly/aartcreatemasks

If you want to DONATE to the mask materials fund, you can visit: https://bit.ly/aartmaskfund

Speaking of Reading

Our very own Julie Brunson, Program Director, and Lara Major, Board Vice Chair, Class Sponsor, and Volunteer, are featured in a brand new video podcast called Speaking of Reading.

Speaking of Reading shares and promotes the benefits of reading to young children from infancy. Each video will share practical tips to engage young readers, ways to incorporate learning into everyday activities, and age-appropriate books to start reading to your children.

Reading fluency is one of the markers used to evaluate the likelihood of a child graduating from high school. If a child is not reading a basic level by the 3rd grade, they are 6-times more likely to not graduate.

Julie stated “I am excited to be a part of this amazing program and share the knowledge I have acquired in the classroom and through raising my three kids.”

All the videos will be posted at https://quidnepress.org/speaking-of-reading with new ones going live weekly.


GiveChoose Results

Wow! We had quite an exciting GiveChoose campaign earlier this month. We exceeded our goal by raising $14,069.82!

The generosity of the GiveChoose donors allows our program to continue providing vital preschool programming to the most vulnerable children in your community and ensure they are ready for success in kindergarten and beyond.

Thank you to our amazing donors!


Read AART’s April Newsletter

Dear Friend,

Over the past few weeks, I have felt that everyone associated with this organization – staff, volunteers, board, and donors – have been “walking in our purpose.”

I am incredibly proud of our amazing team, who were able to quickly implement a 100% virtual program so our students could continue learning at home. I am in awe of the generosity of the community donors who have purchased items on our wishlist. And, most importantly, I am grateful that our AART family is healthy and safe.

These challenges….  [continue reading]

All Ages Read Together Announces $5,000 Matching Gift Challenge

(Herndon, VA) – Early childhood education is vital for every child to achieve success in their academic journey. It not accessible to everyone, however. Federally-funded preschool programs typically have long waitlists, and private preschools are often too expensive for lower-to-middle class families. Although Virginia delivers some preschool services, they are not universal or accessible for many families. Children entering kindergarten without preschool are often behind their peers both socially and academically.

All Ages Read Together (AART) is a 501(c)(3) dedicated to educating children in need with free preschool programs in their communities. AART envisions a future where all children, especially our most vulnerable, enter school prepared to learn. We strive for a future where public education includes universal access to preschool, making the need for AART obsolete.

AART is proud to announce a $5,000 matching gift challenge sponsored by REI Systems (http://reisystems.com) for their GiveChoose campaign. The money raised will be used to open two new summer classes for students needing critical early learning immediately before entering kindergarten.

“We are thrilled to partner with REI Systems! They have been a fantastic supporter of our mission and have actively participated in our classroom by supplying books, resources, and volunteers. They care deeply about their community and are investing in the youngest members.” Michelle Sullivan, Executive Director for AART.

Donations will be accepted beginning April 21st at 12:01 am through 11:59 pm on May 5th at http://givechoose.org/AART


What AART is Learning From the Coronavirus

By: Michelle Sullivan, Executive Director

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a humbling experience for our organization. We have had to shift and adapt our program in the span of just a few short weeks – something that is not easy in the best of times.

AART’s educational model focuses on individualized learning – meeting students where they are. We do not use a standard curriculum, but we do have metrics that we measure improvement in key areas. This allows teachers to vary their teaching styles to better address the needs of their students, while still focusing on developing language/literacy, social classroom behavior, cognitive, and fine motor skills.

Student practicing writing at home.
AART student practicing writing at home.

We are very focused on preserving the integrity of our program or “walking in our purpose”, while at the same time adapting to meet our new reality. This is a delicate balance that takes a team effort and I believe we have been extremely successful because of the creativity, support, and dedication of our entire teaching staff working with one purpose in mind – to educate each of our students to the best of their abilities in the home environment.

It has been one month since we suspended our in-person classes and a number of lessons have been learned from this pandemic. Today, I wanted to share with you the biggest lesson we’ve learned thus far: being responsive and agile is key to early success.

Staff creating packets for students.
Staff creating packets for students.

On March 12th, we suspended our classes in accordance with the cancellation of instruction at Loudoun County Public Schools. The very next day, our team was assembling academic activity packets for our students to continue learning at home.

Since that day, our teaching team has been employing technology solutions to connect with their students to continue the learning at home. You can see some of the fantastic examples in this post of what teachers are doing – everything from reading to their students to find creative ways to teach them about the five senses.

The success of our program is built on trust and establishing solid relationships with the children and families early on. Our students connect deeply with their classmates, teaching staff, and volunteers within the first few weeks of class. Because of these personal connections, the students are building their social and emotional skills as well as gaining a sense of independence and familiarity with a structured classroom environment.

Student showing the drawing he completed.
Student showing the drawing he completed.

Since this foundation was well-established with the current 2019-2020 class of students, the shift to a virtual, flexible model was much easier than we assumed. For our team, the agility came in the form of technology challenges with a digital divide experienced by most of our AART families. First, our teachers needed to establish that families had internet and wifi connectivity and second, they needed to confirm the students would have access to a device to access digital material. Once that was established, it was determined that almost all students would be using a borrowed cell phone for any digital connection to the teachers.

Teacher assistant demonstrating the sense of smell.
Teacher assistant demonstrating the sense of smell.

What proved to be successful was how the staff used this knowledge to reach our students. They piloted the use of apps that families could download and use for free, including Marco Polo and WhatsApp, to watch and create videos with their teacher. The teachers also discovered that most students do not have their own learning space equipped with supplies and resources to successfully work from home. This information was power and inspired creativity and thought.

So what does all this mean for our program moving forward? At this time, we are continuing to monitor the situation and have some tough decisions ahead. We intend to complete our current 2019-2020 school year program virtually, which means our students will not have their in-person graduation. As for our in-person summer classes – we must consider our students, staff, and volunteer’s health while at the same time balancing the feasibility of opening classes in our schools or
community centers.

We know we need to take our lessons learned to finetune our program to respond to the anticipated need we expect to see in our 2020-2021 program as a second wave of job loss is currently unfolding in the United States. For now, all of us at AART will #KeepLearning as #COVIDCantStopGood.



Watch Ms. Sally read The Family Book by Todd Parr to her students.


AART’s Board of Directors Grows

We are pleased to announce that two new members have joined our Board of Directors. Lara Major and Debbie White are our newest board members.
Lara is an educational consultant with over 18 years of experience facilitating professional development of teachers in early literacy instruction. Prior to becoming a consultant, she was a classroom teacher and reading specialist in the Fairfax and Loudoun County Public Schools. Lara taught as an adjunct instructor for the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and George Mason University. She serves on the Executive Advisory Council for James Madison University’s College of Education and is the acting Vice Rector of James Madison University. She is the chair of the Outreach Committee for 100 Women Strong. She is a trustee of the Willowcroft Foundation, which supports educational initiatives and medical research. Lara received her Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education at James Madison University and her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Virginia. Lara’s favorite activity is reading books with young children. She is grateful to have the opportunity to do this often with the wonderful students of All Ages Read Together!

Debbie White olds a Master of Science degree in School Guidance and Counseling from the Johns Hopkins University. Debbie received her undergraduate degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Elementary Education. Debbie taught in an early education school before moving to Maryland to teach for Montgomery County Public Schools. She taught first and fourth grades during her 10 years there. In her community, Debbie has volunteered at Carderock Spring Elementary School, Stepping Stones Family Shelter, D.C. Village Shelter for Families, and the National Center for Children and Families. Through her family foundation, Debbie supports nonprofits that assist underserved communities access education, job training, and basic need safety nets.

8th Annual Tee Off for Children’s Literacy Golf Tournament is a Success

Golfers teed up at Raspberry Falls Golf & Hunt Club on May 9th in a tournament to benefit All Ages Read Together (AART). The tournament was the inspiration of AART board member Peter Knapp, who remarked, “Eight years ago we decided to have a golf tournament and, now, it has become an annual tradition. This year we raised over $15,000 for AART and we are grateful to everyone who participated for making it such a huge success.”

AART thanks all the 2019 sponsors, with specific recognition for Michael Capretti and Capretti Land, our exclusive Green Jacket sponsor, and Championship sponsors, Pactolus Private Wealth Management, 100WomenStrong, and The Peter Knapp Realty Group. These sponsorships provide the foundation for this golf tournament and drive golf revenue. AART’s Board Chair, Tamar Datan, noted, “We are so grateful to the devoted sponsors, players, and organizers of this very special event. Together, they have helped us raise funding to contribute towards one of our school year classes!”

This funding is critical as AART is the only organization that fills the gap for children who do not qualify for publicly funded programs, like Head Start, and whose families cannot afford private preschool. These children would fall behind in the current education system without AART’s help. One in five children in Northern Virginia begins kindergarten every year without any preschool exposure, leaving them an average of 20 months behind their peers.

Mark your calendars for another signature fundraiser for AART, the annual AART Horseshoe Hoedown. This year’s hoedown is on Saturday, October 26th and will include BBQ, live music and dancing, mechanical bull rides, horseshoe and corn hole tournaments, many artisan vendors, and children’s activities such as a bounce house and pumpkin decorating.

Local Dignitaries Share Their Love of Reading at Kick-off Event for the All Ages Read Together Read-A-Thon

All Ages Read Together (AART) kicked off the 2019 AART Read-A-Thon at Cascades Library on Thursday, February 14 with Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall, Supervisor Suzanne Volpe, and Supervisor Koran Saines as well as Loudoun County Library Director Chang Liu. Area leaders read to children who attend the Cascades Library AART class.

The Read-A-Thon is designed to raise funds for AART, which is dedicated to preparing young children for success in school by teaching them the skills they will need in kindergarten and beyond while cultivating an early love of reading and learning. AART fills the gap in the community by providing these classes to children who do not qualify for publicly funded programs yet come from low-income working families. There were 874 children who began kindergarten this school year in Loudoun County without any preschool experience. These children are approximately 20 months behind their peers. In our region, a family of four that earns $70,000 or less qualifies for affordable housing yet they do not all qualify for publicly funded preschool. AART has served hundreds of children in Loudoun and Fairfax counties since its inception in 2007.

Chair Phyllis Randall spearheaded a book drive with 50 faith leaders to coincide with the Read-A-Thon to collect books and monetary donations for AART classes. AART Executive Director, Michelle Sullivan said, “AART appreciates this outpouring of support and is so grateful for the impact it will directly have on the children.”

AART Receives a Matching Donor for Giving Tuesday

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide. Following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this year’s #GivingTuesday will take place on November 27th and will kick off the giving season by inspiring people to collaborate and give back. Because of a generous supporter, all donations made to AART on Giving Tuesday will be matched up to $5,000. In addition, all donations made through our Facebook page will be matched by Facebook and Paypal.


AART Nominated by NOVA Chamber of Commerce for Nonprofit of the Year

AART is proud to have been chosen by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce as an Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Awards nominee in the nonprofit category. The Northern Virginia Chamber’s Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Awards honor individuals, businesses and non-profits for above-and-beyond business leadership, employee engagement, and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
AART’s management staff attended the award ceremony on June 13th.

“We are honored to have our work recognized and be nominated for this prestigious #CorpCitizenshipAwards.”

– Michelle Sullivan, Executive Director


It’s Graduation Season at AART

AART graduations are a special time of year, an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of our students. Some of our students first arrive at our classes quiet, some struggling to leave their parents or with limited English skills. They also arrive with shy smiles and are eager to learn. One of our parents recently shared that her daughter started AART class speaking not a word of English and now she converses fluently and comfortably in English in and outside of the classroom. Her teachers observed her growing by leaps and bounds. By spring she was a confident and enthusiastic learner who emerged as a leader in the class. Our volunteers share in the excitement, awed by the growth of our students and their newfound confidence.

Graduation celebrations begin with students arriving in their best outfits and parents carrying platters of ethnic cuisine to share. Teachers share what the students have learned, classes sing songs and certificates of achievement are handed out. Proud parents snap photos of their preschool graduate and then the celebratory meal begins!

Summers are challenging for our students as they do not have access to the classroom structure and academics provided by AART classes. We’d like to obtain funding for additional AART classes to continue learning and preparation not only in the summer, but also in our school year programs.

“This year at every graduation I attended, parents approached me to thank me for the opportunity for their children and how much they appreciated how the program prepared their children for school.”

– Julie Brunson, Program Director

Tory Burch Foundation Invites AART ED to First Summit

Executive Director Michelle Sullivan with Tory Burch

The Tory Burch Foundation invited AART Executive Director, Michelle Sullivan, to attend The Embrace Ambition Summit on Tuesday, April 24th at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center.  Many nonprofit executives gathered with women entrepreneurs from all over the world to discuss the idea of doing well while doing good.  “To say it was a transformative experience would be an understatement!  It was a global think tank for a day of the most innovative minds to discuss the way we think about the entrepreneurial business community’s relationship with nonprofits” Sullivan pronounced.

Among the speakers were Virginia Delegate Danica Roem, Congressman Joe Kennedy III, and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy.  Other power players included author Margaret Atwood, actress Julianna Margulies, journalist Katie Couric, and Olympians Linsey Vonn and Ibtihaj Muhammad.  Tory Burch took the opportunity to chat with as many of the attendees as possible and took an interest in the nonprofits and their myriad contributions to the communities they serve.  Laurie Fabiano, president of the Tory Burch Foundation, told Michelle the intent of the Summit was to begin conversations and make connections across the entrepreneurial community as well as the nonprofit sector with the hope that the conversations would continue long after the Summit ended.

Actress Zoey Deutch told the audience that she can feel overwhelmed with what is going on in the world. She said it almost stymies her and sometimes she doesn’t know how to contribute to society. Deutch recounted Gloria Steinem’s powerful statement, “You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.”  The nonprofit community knows this all too well!

AART Thanks Maximus Foundation and John Edward Fowler

Many thanks to our most recent foundation funders, the Maximus Foundation and the John Edward Fowler Memorial Foundation. As the philanthropic arm of MAXIMUS, the Foundation extends the mission of the Company by identifying and awarding grants to partners with specialized expertise to deliver results within the same populations and communities served by the public programs the Company operates.

The MAXIMUS Foundation is completely funded by MAXIMUS and its employees, and provides grants to local community organizations with programs and projects in the areas of child and youth development, health and community development.

The John Edward Fowler Memorial Foundation was created in 1964 by Pearl Gunn Fowler in memory of her late husband, John Edward Fowler, a Northern Virginia businessman. In recent years the Foundation has awarded about $1.2 million in grants annually.

Both grants will be used to support our school readiness classes. We couldn’t do our important work without their generous support.