On November 14, 2017, Literacy Partners lost its long-time friend, advocate, and Vice President, Parker Ladd. Parker and his partner, Arnold Scaasi, were recruited to Literacy Partners by our patron saint, Liz Smith, in the mid-1980s.

Arnold served on the Board of Directors until his death in 2015, and Parker was still actively involved until his death on November 14, most recently creating the Scaasi-Ladd Book Fund.

Liz knew that Parker would be a natural fit for Literacy Partners as a giant of the publishing industry and a lover of books and reading. With Arnold and Liz by his side, Parker was instrumental in the success of the Evening of Readings and Annual Gala Dinner Dance, the organization’s well-known annual fundraiser. Through this trio’s tireless efforts, more than $37 million was raised over 30 years in support of Literacy Partners and more than 25,000 functionally illiterate adult New Yorkers learned to read.

Parker knew that low literacy and limited English proficiency were a largely hidden epidemic in New York City, affecting both adults and their children and wanted to do something. Following the death of his beloved partner of 50+ years, Arnold, Parker established the Scaasi-Ladd Book Fund at Literacy Partners to support our Books of Their Own home library project. Books of Their Own provides our students with 15 books per child in their home, per year, and coaches our students on making family reading a daily habit.

In creating the Fund, Parker said:

“I can’t imagine living in a home with no books, could you? Trying to raise a family with no children’s books? I have decided to do something about it by establishing the Scaasi—Ladd Book Fund so that Literacy Partners can provide a modest home library to every student they serve. Not just any books, but great works that will spark the imagination—books about art, fashion, adventure, the great novels of our time, stories that will appeal to the interests of their children and get them hooked on reading. It will change their lives.“

Literacy Partners is deeply grateful for the leadership shown by Parker and Arnold over the last 30+ years of their lives and appreciative of Parker’s visionary support in establishing the Scaasi-Ladd Book Fund. The Fund is accepting donations in his honor. All gifts will go towards providing “great works…stories that appeal…to get families hooked on reading.”