Message to Our Team at I-LEAD Today:

“Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you’ll be able to see further.”

This is a big day for our entire team. I am happy to announce that after months of quiet work and planning, the CNA Building at 401 Penn Street has been donated to I-LEAD, Inc. This is a five-story, 250,000 square foot property in excellent condition with enormous potential, valued at $5.2 million dollars. The building is in the heart of downtown Reading, in the “Main Street” corridor. We will use the building for our full range of nonprofit purposes, and after a careful period of planning and development, for our Charter School operations. This is the largest philanthropic contribution to a community-based organization in the recent history of the region.

How did this enormous blessing come about?

First, we give thanks to God, through whom all good things come to pass, and through whom we endure all challenges, setbacks and suffering.

Second, we give thanks to CNA. CNA’s gift to the community speaks volumes about its character as a corporate citizen. We live in a world often filled with empty words and false rhetoric, a place inhabited by many hypocrites who say one thing and do another. CNA’s action today provides a mighty contrast, an awesome example of true generosity seeking to serve the community with great humility, thoughtfulness and caring. CNA: walking the talk. CNA’s generosity today speaks thunderously for itself, revealing CNA’s true love for the Reading community. Thank you CNA.

Third, we give thanks to our entire team:

* We recognize Angel Figueroa, whose gigantic heart beats relentlessly for our Reading community, driving enthusiasm and optimism and love through our hallways, out into the streets and homes of our students and parents. Angel has been a singular driving force in this process. Angel’s dedication and his life’s work are a living example of our mission and vision.

* We recognize the dedicated, tireless and creative service of our head of school, Dr. Yamil Sanchez, and his executive team, our Charter School Board (including especially Dr. Robert Natalini and Robert Jefferson), as well as our many gifted and passionate learning facilitators. All these people have played a critical role, along with our students and parents. Our care for them is the reason we come to work. Through Dr. Sanchez’s inspired leadership, today our dream lives. CNA’s gift today recognizes the quality of our service.

* We thank our Board at I-LEAD, including David Maola and Susan Herron, and especially our Co-Founder, former Philadelphia District Attorney Lynne Abraham, who serves as our Board Chair and helped us secure pro bono representation through Archer and Greiner with Attorney Jay Ruder. Thank you Lynne and Jay for representing us in this important cause.

* We thank I-LEAD’s dynamic executive team:

Our CFO Barbara Sykes, who played a crucial role in the legal and financial negotiations that made this possible.

Our key executives at I-LEAD–Denise Kirkland, Phillip Thomas, Judy Ortiz, Cheryl Lang, Krysss Nash, Cynda Clyde, and our former team member, Isamac Figueroa–whose dedicated service over many years created the organizational and program infrastructure that has allowed I-LEAD to grow and develop the significant financial and organizational infrastructure required to achieve scale.

* We must also thank John Buccinno at NAI Keystone, for his patient advice and guidance throughout this process, and for his sincere concern throughout for our philanthropic mission and vision. John, we know that without your help this achievement would not have been possible. We will never forget your impact on our organization.

Without all of this work, without so many people caring about us and the people we serve, we could not have been a candidate for this gift.

CNA could have contributed this property to any of countless organizations. From that vast field, their team selected I-LEAD. Why? Because of our unique educational mission and vision (leadership development through education of the heart and mind), and because of our dedication over many years to action. Because we persevere. We move from dreams to deeds. We continue to plant one foot in front of the other in the direction of progress, learning and improving as we go, never intimidated by the risk of failure.

To whom much is given, much is expected. Today we dedicate every molecule of this investment to the community through our continuing hard work and stewardship.

Over the recent labor day weekend, I had the opportunity to climb Mt. Washington in New Hampshire with Dr. Natalini, something we had first done 20 years ago. The morning of our climb (like being on a stairmaster for six hours), the weather report promised a day of rain and thunderstorms. We were prepared for bad conditions, so we headed out into the morning drizzle. After several hours, the clouds lifted and sun broke through. Only those climbers willing to walk through the bad weather saw the incredible vistas that day from the steep approach to the summit. Just so, in I-LEAD, we strive. The weather reports will sometimes be threatening. Often the wind will blow and the rain fall. We are prepared. We have courage and tenacity. Today, undaunted, from the top of a new building, we can see the distant horizon and the promise it holds for us and the community we serve.

Today we celebrate; tomorrow the work continues.

God bless each and every one of you.

David Castro, President and CEO, I-LEAD, Inc.,
Board Chair, I-LEAD Charter School


Below is a link to the Reading Eagle Article. Please check it out and leave some positive comments there!


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