Paco Project Timeline
 UPDATE  - January 2016
So much has happened in the past year! I graduated cum laude from The Hewitt School last June, and I am now a student at the State University of New York at Cortland. I am majoring in Early Childhood/Childhood Education with a concentration in Math. I love college, and especially enjoy tutoring math to elementary school students. I am now a second-degree black belt and compete with the Cortland Collegiate TaeKwonDo Team.
I also learned that I was one of the recipients of Learning Ally's 2016 Marion Huber Learning Through Listening Awards! I am so grateful for this honor, especially since Learning Ally  has been such an important part of my academic success. I am looking forward to the National Achievement Awards and Gala on April 9, 2016 in Denver, CO.
December 2012 - Launch of The Paco Project Website
I was able to launch this project with the help of my good friend with whom I have certain things in common:
1. Our first names
2. Dyslexia 
3. A grandparent who suffered in silence with a reading disability 
4. The need to make a difference for other students with dyslexia 
Here is a photo of my Paco Project partner, Skye Lucas. She edited the 10 minute Paco Project movie and has constantly given me support and encouragement.  Thanks, Skye!
 March 18 & 19, 2013 - Everyone Reading Conference - New York University
I was honored to be asked to be a part of the 40th Annual Everyone Reading Conference at NYU. I was able to spread the word about The Paco Project to educators from around the country and was especially excited to gain the attention of Dr. Esther Klein Friedman who is the Senior Director of Literacy and Academic Intervention for the NYC Department of Education. I thank her for sharing my vision of helping students with learning disabilities and becoming an advocate of The Paco Project.
Here is a photo of my mom (my greatest supporter) and me at the Conference.   
 March 2013  - The Paco Project is featured on The My Hero Project website in honor of Developmental Disabilities Month
A story written about me by Sue Glader:
May 6, 2013 - Educators' Forum at the Yale Club in New York City 
This event has been the highlight of The Paco Project. I teamed with my heros, Dr. Sally and Dr. Bennett Shaywitz from The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, and helped to create an event for 300 educators from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. They viewed the HBO documentary, The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia, listened to Dr. and Dr. Shatywitz explain their groundbreaking research about the brain and dyslexia, and of course learn about The Paco Project.                                                                                                                                          
 Skye Lucas, Sally Shaywitz, me, Bennet Shaywitz, and Joan Lonergan, Head of the Hewitt School                                                                                                                 
 The Paco Project movie plays to a packed house.
 Speaking about my goals for The Paco Project.
 Dr. Sally Shatwitz is the facilitator for the panel discussion which included Dr. Tyler Lucas, a top-rated surgeon who was recently diagnosed as dyslexic, Andrew Friedman, CEO of Learning Ally, Dr. Kathleen Bergeson, Clinical Neuropsychologist, Harriet Blanchard from Choate, and Dr. John Russell, the Head of Windward School. 
After the large Educators' Forum, I was lucky enough to host an intimate fundraising dinner at The Yale Club. Thanks to the incredible generosity of our underwriters, all money raised that evening went directly to The Paco Project.
Here I am with Connie Murphy, Chief Development  and Community Officer for Learning Ally.
June 2013 - Yale Center Plaque for Paco 
The Yale Center of Dyslexia and Creativity was so touched by Paco's candid and brave discovery and admittance of his own reading disability, they created a Special Recognition Award in his honor.  Here I am presenting it to him when I visited him in June 2013. I am proud to say that Paco is my greatest hero.
October 5, 2013 - Learning Ally presents "The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia" 2013 Roadshow - NYC screening
Learning Ally teamed with Decoding Dyslexia and the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity to screen The Big Picture documentary in major cities across the nation. I was honored to be asked to be part of a discussion panel at the New York City Screening. I was joined by dyslexia advocates including Marcus Soutra, the Chief Operating Officer for EYE TO EYE (a mentoring program for children with Learning Disabilities) and one of my inspirations, Ben Foss, the Founder of Headstrong Nation.  Mr. Foss invented the Intel Reader which is a point-shoot-listen device which converts text to speech. I use the Intel Reader for handouts and articles not taken from my standard textbooks. The combination of Learning Ally downloads and the Intel Reader make me a grateful independent learner. Needless to say, I was thrilled to meet Mr. Foss, and not only was he interested in learning about The Paco Project, he generously offered to donate five Intel Readers to help with my fundraising efforts!
Ben Foss holding his invention, the Intel Reader
October 19, 2013 - Launch of the GoFundMe website
With renewed energy, I was determined to raise the last $5000, and thus reach my final goal of $25,000 by the end of 2013. I began a new multi-faceted campaign. I wanted four of the Intel Readers donated by Ben Foss to go to NYC public schools; four individuals gave $500 each for the honor of having an Intel Reader donated to a school in his/her name. The last Intel Reader was going to be auctioned off. I also organized a Spin-a-thon/Fitness event at The Paris Health Club on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I lovingly called this "Spin for Paco." I decided to create a GoFund Me page  for this final phase of fundraising.
December 14, 2013 - Spin for Paco 
The afternoon event at The Paris Health Club was filled with Spinning, Kettle Bells,  Bollywood Aerobics, and lots of food and fun. My friends and I also put on a black belt TaeKwonDo demonstration. A special thank you to the dedicated staff and members of the Paris who made this possible. 
 Spinning for Paco and dyslexics everywhere!
December 23, 2013 - The Paco Project reaches its $25,000 goal!!!
December 31, 2013 - The Intel Reader Raffle
On this final day of 2013, I had the drawing for the Intel Reader. The lucky winner was Keely D. from Illinois. Congratulations to Keely and an extra-special thank you to Ben Foss. 
January 2014 - Learning Ally features The Paco Project on their Facebook Page and website
Happy New Year 2014 to our cherished members, parents, teachers, volunteers, supporters, staff and friends! May your year ahead be full of reading, learning and joyful discoveries. 
They also wrote an article about my efforts:
March 18, 2014 - Everyone  Reading Conference - New York University
I was honored to appear with Paul Edelblut, Learning Ally's Vice President of Education Solutions. He spoke about assistive technology, and told the teachers/learning specialists attending about how Learning Ally is pleased to provide school memberships and professional development services to interested schools in New York through the funds raised from The Paco Project.  It was thrilling to see first hand how the money I raised is being put to use in such a thoughtful and constructive way!
 Paul Edelblut and me at the Everyone Reading Conference.
March 21, 2014 - Update on the Intel Readers 
 I am pleased to announce that three of the four Intel readers donated by Ben Foss are in the process of being placed in NYC public schools. 
The first, given in honor of Paco, went to The Center School, an exceptional middle school in Manhattan.
The second is going to a school chosen by Wendy Ramos in her home borough of Staten Island. Wendy, along with her friend Rachel Catalano are the directors of a learning disabilities advocacy organization called Wishes of Literacy.  Check out their website: 
 The third is going to PS 5, The Ellen Lurie School in the Bronx. My school, Hewitt, teams with PS 5 on community service projects.
We are still trying to find the perfect home for the last Intel Reader. We will keep you posted.
March 26, 2014 - Further Updates
I am happy to announce that I have found the perfect home for the last Intel Reader. It is School for the Future in Manhattan.  This school is an example of New York City public education that works.  It is a gem of a place where students transform intellectually, emotionally and socially.
Also, today is Paco's 89th birthday!  Love you Paco!!
April 26, 2014 - National  Achievement Awards Gala
I was so honored to attend Learning Ally's 54th Annual Achievement Awards Gala at the Smithsonian American Art Museum/ National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. All of the honorees were true inspirations.  To find out more, please click here

June 9, 2014  - The Lisa Bilotti Award
 I humbly received the Lisa Bilotti Award today at The Hewitt School's 2014 Achievement Assembly. This monetary award is given to a Junior who dedicates her time to community service benefitting children.  I am going to use the money to help more NYC kids receive Learning Ally Services.
Last month I was lucky enough to visit PS 5 in the South Bronx; this is one of the schools that received an Intel Reader. I learned that this text-to-speech converter is especially making a difference for one struggling reader who is named Ian. I am so proud of you Ian and have a wonderful summer.
September 8, 2014 - Child Mind Institute Rising Scientist Award 
I was honored to learn today that I have been selected as a recipient of the 2014 Child Mind Institute Rising Scientist Award. Many thanks to Ms. Tameka Farrell (one of my astounding teachers at Hewitt) who nominated me last June. I am looking forward to October 9, when I will be receiving the award at a breakfast at Hunter College. To learn more about the Child Mind Institute please check out their website at
This is an invaluable organization under the leadership of Harold. S. Koplewicz.
On a different note, I am thrilled that Learning Ally will be using The Paco Project funds to help bring their services to PS 5 in the South Bronx.  Hewitt has a wonderful relationship with PS 5 which was also one of the schools to receive an Intel Reader thanks to Ben Foss and Headstrong Nation. Thanks to everyone who has expressed an interest in reaching out to this school.
October 1, 2014 - Update on The Paco Project Funds 
Please note the following statement written by Connie Murphy of Learning Ally:


Through the wonderful efforts of Skye Malik, Learning Ally has been able to provide services to students who struggle with learning disabilities in several schools in New York City . Additionally, Learning Ally has been able to provide training and professional development services to the teachers in those schools increasing their awareness and knowledge about learning disabilities.

Skye raised $25,000 to support providing these services to the following schools: International High School Union Square, Bronx Leadership Academy II, East Bronx Academy for the Future and PS 114 Belle Harbor with two more schools soon to be added. Through the allocation of the funds raised, an estimated 200 students will receive services from Learning Ally and close to 100 teachers will be trained.

Also as part of the funds raised by Skye, Learning Ally was able to provide training to the entire Assistive Technology (AT) team within the New York City Department of Education reaching more than 53 AT professionals who serve more than 1,000 students needing such services throughout the five boroughs in New York City.

With these funds raised, Learning Ally has been able to provide services and support to so many students and teachers who otherwise may not have received the help they needed. We express our sincere appreciation to Skye for her leadership, hard work and passion that helped us bring a brighter future to many students in New York City.


 Connie Murphy

Executive Vice President, Partnerships and Community Development

Learning Ally
 I am so grateful to Connie Murphy, Paul Edelblut and everyone at Learning Ally who used The Paco Project funds in such a rewarding and worthwhile way. Thanks to them, I was able to realize my goals of this project, with funds being used to not only help struggling readers in New York City but to educate educators about the neurological origins of dyslexia, how best to identify kids with dyslexia and provide multi-sensory language instruction, and of course the invaluable importance of assistive technology and most importantly Learning Ally.
Knowing that the money I raised is going to help so many students in all five boroughs of New York City is the greatest tribute to Paco that I could ever imagine. Thank you to Learning Ally for literally changing not only my life, but the lives of thousands of other struggling readers. I will remain forever grateful.
October 9, 2014 - On the Shoulders of Giants Scientific Symposium
I was so thrilled to accept my 2014 Child Mind Institute Rising Scientist Award at The Roosevelt House at Hunter College this morning. It was an honor to hear Pasko Rakic, MD, PhD speak about his research in developmental neurobiology. Dr. Rakic was named the 2014 Child Mind Institute Distinguished Scientist. He is the director of the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience at Yale University, and of course knows Dr. Sally and Dr. Bennett Shaywitz.
Pasko Rakic, MD, PhD is on my left and on my right is Harold S. Koplewicz, President of The Child Mind Institute which is dedicated to transforming mental health care for children everywhere.