Our mission

To inspire and equip underserved children and their families with the tools for continued success.

History of the Foundation

Established in 1998, by ex-Miami Dolphin’s linebacker, Twan Russell, and his late mother, Corliss. Corliss a middle-school teacher with a huge heart for helping struggling children launched the Russell Life Skills and Reading Foundation afterschool program to focus solely on reading to equip children for academic success.

REF currently provides quality after school and summer learning services for kindergarten – 5th grade students through Russell Reading Rooms for over 1,000 children in 11 locations throughout Broward and Miami-Dade counties annually. Priority is given to children attending a school on the Priority Title 1 School List where children qualify for Free or Reduced Lunch.

  • Students across South Florida are dismissed from school, and what do upon dismissal is cause for anxiety among working parents who cannot be home after the school day ends.
  • The average student will lose up to one month of reading gains during the summer breaks and disadvantaged students will be affected to greater degrees. To counteract the summer slide in literacy skills, children need access to quality, supplemental learning programs.

REF believes parents are their children’s primary teachers; our quality after school programs, however, plays a critical role in improving South Florida’s young people’s chances of success in both school and in life. Russell Reading Rooms provide safe, engaging environments that motivate and inspire learning outside of the regular school day. Russell Reading Rooms combine academic enrichment, cultural, and recreation activities to guide learning and engage children in wholesome activities.

Over the past year, we’ve expanded services to serve more youth and help 100% of our 3rd through 5th grade students to achieve proficient levels on Florida State Assessments in English Language Arts and Mathematics. In addition, we recently expanded our afterschool and summer camp program model to an additional site to serve students from elementary schools in the cities of Margate and North Lauderdale in partnership with the Children Services Council of Broward County. Experienced professional teams led by school district personnel supervise each program location.

Board of Directors

Our Board of Directors is a dedicated group of individuals who are passionate about education and who provide oversight of and financial stewardship for the foundation.

  • Twan Russell — Founder and Board Chair
  • John Schechter — Vice Chair
  • Debbie Fowler — Treasurer
  • Lysandra Russell — Executive Committee Member
  • Pauline D’Oyley — Program Director
  • Nyam Smith — Vice President of Mission Advancement
  • Dorothy Sillano
  • Nicoleen Dillard
  • Ed Forler
  • Brion Ross
  • Barbara Schechter
  • Dave Shulman
  • Mitch Teger
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