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Students Read 10 Million Words in Summer Reading Challenge

In support of Literacy by 5th Grade Initiative, students respond with investment in literacy, as top readers in multiple districts earn prizes of iPad tablets.

Students who focused on their reading skills over the summer have returned to school this fall with new language skills, enhanced individual confidence, and a greater understanding of their world.”
— Dr. Edwin Gomez
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES, September 13, 2022 / -- What started as a summer challenge to read 5 million words between June 15 and July 31, led to more than 2,000 students in Riverside County reading more than 10 million words to exceed the goal set by Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Edwin Gomez.

“Students who focused on their individual reading skills over the summer have returned to school this fall with new language skills, enhanced individual confidence, and a greater understanding of their world unlocked through the power of literacy,” said Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Edwin Gomez.

Beyond the 10 million words read, Riverside County students logged more than 4,000 hours on the platform, read nearly 13,000 books, wrote 10,000 digital books, and played nearly 60,000 interactive learning games.

For the Summer Reading Challenge, the top four individual readers earned the prize of an Apple iPad for their time spent reading and learning using the Footsteps2Brilliance platform.

Diego Barba Perez, 6th Grade Menifee USD
• 287 books read, 73 books written, 99,484 words read
Melissa Ordonez, Kindergarten, Lake Elsinore USD
• 117 books read, 34 books written, 60,602 words read
Eloise Del Barrio, Kindergarten, Menifee USD
• 158 books read, 37 books written, 93,830 words read
Keyla Ramos, Kindergarten, Coachella Valley USD
• 143 books read, 111 books written, 72,870 words read

With nearly 100,000 words read over the summer, Diego Barba Perez from Menifee Valley Middle School in the Menifee Union School District (MUSD) was the top reader during the Summer Reading Challenge.

As a passionate and dedicated bilingual learner, Diego spent all summer diligently reading in both Spanish and English—thereby unlocking a new world for Diego.

On Thursday, September 1, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Edwin Gomez, Menifee Union School District Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Root, Menifee Valley Middle School Principal Arronda Douglas, and Diego’s family, walked into his English/Language Arts middle school class, waiting for Diego to come back from the office. The students were introduced to Dr. Gomez and the Footsteps2Brilliance program as Diego nervously walked into the classroom, not knowing what to expect. When Dr. Gomez announced the award and handed Diego his new iPad, the students applauded. Diego's friends shouted, "Felicidades!" which means "Congratulations!" in Spanish.

“We want to congratulate all of the students who worked so hard this summer to improve their literacy skills and especially celebrate our four winners,” says Footsteps2Brilliance CEO Ilene Rosenthal.

As part of the Literacy by 5th Grade Initiative at the Riverside County Office of Education, the partnership with the Footsteps2Brilliance platform offers pre-reading activities, read-to-you stories, alphabet recognition songs, grammar rule games, and more, to the youngest learners in Riverside County. Offered in English and Spanish, and with or without internet access, the interactive tools are available for free to all families in Riverside County from the age of birth to 5th grade. The free apps are available on smartphones, tablets, and computers, at

About the Literacy by 5th Grade Initiative
The Literacy by 5th Grade Initiative, launched in late 2020 by Riverside County Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Edwin Gomez, strives to promote and expand literacy throughout Riverside County. Strong literacy skills are the foundation of all learning and contribute to a student’s ability to graduate from high school academically and socially prepared for college, the workforce, and civic responsibility. Essential literacy skills include the ability to read, write, listen, speak, research, and represent, to think critically, create, collaborate, and communicate with empathy in all content areas. Resources available on the Literacy by 5th Grade Initiative website include access to online books, video tutorials for teachers of reading, recordings of RCOE educators reading to preschool-aged students, and more.

About Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE)
The Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) is a service agency supporting the county’s 23 school districts that serve 430,000 students—more than the student population of 17 states. RCOE services include administrative support to districts, programs for preschool, special education, pregnant minor, correctional, migrant, and vocational students. In addition, the organization provides professional training, support, and resources for more than 18,000 teachers, administrators and staff throughout the 7,000 square miles of Riverside County. Learn more at

About Footsteps2Brilliance
Footsteps2Brilliance, Inc. is the breakthrough bilingual early learning platform that accelerates literacy achievement by uniting the power of mobile gaming technology with the latest in cognitive research. Footsteps2Brilliance provides enticing, interactive, 24/7 learning experiences that digitally link school and home to give students the edge they need for success in school today and the world tomorrow. For further information contact:

Michael Fleischner
+1 609-477-8677
email us here
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