Amazing things happen when Tucsonans work together to educate our kids and fight poverty.

Over the last two months, the Arizona Daily Star has done an incredible job of exposing and explaining the numerous obstacles that children living in poverty face here in Tucson. We have learned that one in every three children in our community live in homes that lack the basic comforts many of us take for granted; they live without clean clothes, electricity, doctor visits and regular meals. They live without books to love and beds to make, and all too often they live without the positive support of an adult who can encourage and support them in school.

Education is the key to escaping the cycle of poverty these children live in every day. We know that the ability to read is absolutely essential to academic and vocational success. We also know that a caring role model is equally vital to help students look beyond their current circumstances and see a world of possibilities.

Thanks to the efforts of Mayor Rothschild and the Arizona Daily Star, Literacy Connects’ Reading Seed program has recruited 615 new volunteers and raised over $25,000 to support this vital program. These volunteers will become trained Reading Seed coaches and offer elementary school students, many of whom are reading below grade level, the opportunity to learn to love reading and the attention of a caring adult who is committed to their success.

We have been humbled by the outpouring of support from community members willing to give generously of their time and couldn’t be more grateful to Mayor Rothschild and the Arizona Daily Star.

As we move into an exciting new era for Literacy Connects’ Reading Seed program, it is extremely important to recognize that this growth would not be possible without the strong support of the Rotary Club of Tucson over the last 10 years.

In 2004, the Rotary Club of Tucson adopted a small, volunteer-run program and its club members dedicated the significant financial resources, as well as personal time and expertise, which allowed Reading Seed to become a fully developed community resource for Pima County. Over the last decade, the Rotary Club of Tucson has invested approximately $1 million to grow and strengthen the Reading Seed program.

In addition, the Rotary Club of Tucson’s annual car show (on Oct. 19 this year) was started to provide ongoing financial support for Reading Seed and other local nonprofits. In 2009, thanks in large part to the visibility provided by Rotary, Literacy Connects’ Reading Seed program also was selected to become a beneficiary of the Tucson Festival of Books. Since then, the festival has distributed $900,000 to support literacy programs in Southern Arizona. This is an excellent example of the powerful synergies that Tucsonans create by working together.

We hope more organizations and businesses will step up to support literacy like the Rotary Club of Tucson and the Tucson Festival of Books.

With your support, the Reading Seed program can continue to help battle the cycle of poverty until every child has the resources necessary to reach their maximum potential — and achieve their dreams. Our children are worth the investment!

Sylvia M. Lee is chairwoman of Literacy Connects board of directors and Melinda Cervantes is the vice chairwoman.