Contributed photo
Lyn Zeppelin, former Branch President of First Security Bank; Don Peschel, Superintendent of Brandon Evansville Schools; and Deb Barry are pictured with a grant for $30,000.

Deb Berry is passionate about providing learning opportunities for children, and it shows through her work with the Brandon Evansville Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program and serving as the Lakes Country Service Cooperative’s Raising a Reader Early Literacy Initiative Coordinator. “Our local children are the people that will be taking care of me in the future in my community, and I want them to be able to read and thrive,” said Berry.

When the opportunity became available to invest time and resources into the Raising a Reader program, Berry looked to find local funds to make this program possible. With the help of First Security State Bank in Evansville, Berry applied for a matching fund grant through the LA Amundson Ohana Foundation for $30,000.

The mission of the Raising a Reader program is to engage caregivers in a routine of book sharing with their children from birth through age eight to foster healthy brain development, healthy relationships, a love of reading, and the literacy skills critical for school success.

Caregivers of the children participating in the program will receive training to help establish a routine for reading in the child’s home. A Red Bag exchange date is scheduled at each child’s childcare or ECFE program, and they will rotate the books for the fourteen-week program. Earlier in 2021, Berry coordinated a test roll-out. For 25 local families and is now planning to launch the program this February.

“I am from a literate family, said Berry, and I know the difference it makes when families work with their children on reading skills. I have worked with families where reading was not a priority, and I can see the difference in the children and their level of reading skills.”

To learn more about the Raising a Reader Program, please visit our Education Services page on our website at You can also visit the Raising a Reader website at

Lakes Country Service Cooperative (LCSC) is a public, non-profit membership-based organization dedicated to providing services that help make our members successful. Originally created by legislation in 1976 as one of Minnesota’s nine service cooperatives to provide services to pre-K through 12 education, we have grown and expanded to provide high quality, innovative programs to cities, counties, other governmental agencies, and non-profit entities. Together, we build relationships that help make all members and communities stronger. Together…We Achieve.