Honoree Information from the National Philanthropy Day Release:
Ryan and Maria Keller – Read Indeed
Outstanding Youth Philanthropists
19-year-old Maria Keller and her 15-year-old brother Ryan of Plymouth announced in May that Read Indeed, their nonprofit literacy organization, has distributed 3 million books to kids in need. Read Indeed is a 501c3 nonprofit literacy organization driven by the vision of Maria, a book lover who wants to make the world a better place, one book at a time. Maria started Read Indeed when she was 8 years old, after hearing from her mom that some children didn’t even own one book of their own. Her brother Ryan Keller, now Program Manager, began volunteering with the organization when he was only 5 years old.
The two siblings have shared their love of reading with 1.5 million kids, reaching all 50 states and 17 countries. A recent book drive held by Providence Academy finally pushed the brother-sister duo over the line. The students, teachers, and parents of Providence Academy raised over 3,500 books for Read Indeed. The three millionth book, Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey, is a childhood favorite of the siblings.
Maria is now planning for her future and the future of the organization. She started her second year at the University of Notre Dame in Fall of 2019, handing Read Indeed Program Manager duties over to Ryan. To meet steadily growing demand for K5 books, Read Indeed is now solely focused on creating new opportunities for individuals, families and organizations to donate funds for the purchase of books—turning every $1.00 donated into one book distributed—for kids at local, regional, and national schools, nonprofits and hospitals. With the entire operation online in the near future, Read Indeed will be poised to reach more kids in more places with more books and nearly zero overhead.
In some respects, the story has just begun. Since 2009, Maria and Ryan have worked with thousands of volunteers at the Read Indeed warehouse in Hopkins, MN, counting, sorting and boxing books donated by individuals, families, schools, churches, corporations, and publishers. The books were then distributed to at-risk children and teens who have no reading resources in their homes. Although about 80 percent of the books to date have been gifted to Minnesota kids, Read Indeed is increasingly distributing books in greater scope to kids in need, including all 50 states and 17 countries.