About Unite for Literacy


At Unite for Literacy, we picture a world where all children have access to an abundance of books that celebrate their languages and cultures and cultivate a lifelong love of reading.

Unite for Literacy has developed the platform, publishing tools, and systems-based strategies that support our public and private sector partners to change the literacy landscape of their communities and optimize the future for all their young children. Our projects build home libraries and support families to develop a daily habit of reading, both of which are key factors in growing lifelong readers.

To accomplish our vision, the Unite for Literacy team brings together expertise from the fields of literacy education, business innovation, strategic planning, and early childhood development. Team members include;

Michael McGuffee – CEO

Mike has consulted with schools, Native American tribes, and large-scale international groups to make engaging, low-cost books available in every home, and to educate families on the importance of reading. Mike deeply believes that all children have a right to experience the joy of reading, and that technology holds the key to book abundance for everyone.

Kurt Hoeven – Chairman

Kurt has been involved in the acquisition and management of numerous companies in a variety of industries and has played an active role in the formation and management of many start-up companies. Kurt is passionate about working with business leaders, assisting them in building their companies, and advising them to successfully navigate all phases of the business cycle.

Mark W. F. Condon, PhD – VP

Mark has focused at the college level on language arts teacher education preparation, global literacy development, and national and international partnerships promoting reading and learning. Mark’s goal is to support parents and young children to enjoy and share books together, creating the foundation for kids to become avid, lifelong readers and learners.

Holly Hartman - Director of Publishing

Holly has written numerous picture books for young children. She has supported children and families as a preschool director and teacher, as well as preparing early childhood educators. Holly’s passion lies with connecting children and their grownups to wonder, creativity, and literacy through hands-on explorations and playful interactions.

James Shelton - Director of Strategy

James has been involved in many facets of small and large companies spanning sales, marketing, business intelligence, strategic planning, and management. His experience has been focused on managing and leading innovative, potential high-growth companies. James is passionate about finding solutions to the current roadblocks on the path to building better businesses.


Unite for Literacy is a non-traditional publishing company that includes these services:

  • We offer a full range of picture book creation, editorial, and graphic design services to organizations that have been historically underrepresented in the field of children’s book publishing. We can provide any level of support needed for content development by members of civic organizations, non-profits, and tribal governments, who are best qualified to create the books that are locally relevant and authentic to their families. Our content is intentionally curated to represent all genders, races, national origins, disabilities, and ages, in both text and images.
  • We have low cost, print and digital book distribution options that support organizations in eradicating book scarcity in their communities.
    • Unite online library provides free access to more than 400 original picture books, one fourth of them written in Spanish. The digital books provide audio narrations in more than 40 languages, spoken by native speakers in warm, expressive voices. The languages of narration include indigenous and endangered languages along with languages most widely spoken in the US. Our publishing services include the ability for our partners to curate and embed a selection of books on their websites.
    • Our inexpensive print services work at any scale to offer an affordable way for our partners to convey their content and messaging, while building book abundance and meeting the need families have for culturally, linguistically, and developmentally appropriate reading material.
  • To assist foundations, nonprofits, and literacy coalitions in addressing low literacy rates, Unite for Literacy has originated a unique way of assessing and talking about book scarcity. We analyzed statistical variables including income, ethnicity, geography, and languages as they relate to the number of books in homes. The resulting interactive Book Desert Map presents our conceptual findings in visual form from state to local scale, and helps pinpoint areas of greatest potential impact. Our intention is to initiate conversations across the public, private, and civic sectors about the geography of books and reading, and to focus community efforts on creating book abundance.


Unite for Literacy supports literacy-based projects by providing books and family support, a digital creation and curation platform, strategic planning, systems-design, and campaign management expertise to our partners. We can help with grant research, writing, and oversight, crowd-funding, corporate sponsorship, and project management. Our solutions are designed to fit the community, no matter the size.

Unite Growing Readers
  • Our Unite Growing Readers program gives families the opportunity to support their young children as engaged and successful learners. The core component is the delivery of printed picture books plus a parent information card in weekly mailings to the home of every child, along with access to narrated books in the digital library. Additional components include wrap-around services and programing to help educators, librarians, and the community support a daily habit of reading. The full program includes the following components:
    • Books in the Home
    • We offer a research-based collection of original, print and digital picture books aimed to support emerging readers. Book packages are distributed systematically to provide the best opportunity for sustained family engagement that supports school readiness. Hundreds of additional books, with narrations in 40+ home languages, can be accessed online. Both print and digital books are available in English and Spanish text, and project partners can drive digital traffic to a URL with an embedded iframe.
    • Family Engagement
    • Family information cards are included with every book package. The cards were developed in association with the National Center for Families Learning to provide evidence-based support for a two-generation learning model of a self-determined habit of reading. The cards are available in English and Spanish. Additional forms of engagement are focused on digital and other means of communication to educators and families (mobile texting, social media, etc.)
    • Community Support
    • Access to a local, data-based “Book Desert Map” is included to provide a basis for informing and engaging the community about the challenges and benefits of strengthening early literacy opportunities for all its youngest members. Other available tools for engaging and informing the community include literacy campaign templates and marketing materials.
Community Based Projects

Unite for Literacy is experienced and eager to engage with local partners to tackle the challenge of growing the habit of reading at a community wide level. We support our partners with tools to identify existing infrastructure for family engagement and data collection, build partnerships in the non-profit and service sectors of the community, and host family engagement/reading events that build community and encourage reading. We also assist in engaging the private sector with fundraising/sponsorship/community support.


We know there are many organizations focused on improving outcomes for the children in their communities. They may be seeking only to improve reading scores and graduation rates, or working more broadly to support autonomy, competence, a sense of belonging, poverty eradication, health equity, etc. Whatever the goal, our work is to support them with an innovative, data-driven approach. We believe that books in the home and a habit of reading are high leverage points that can provide a common thread to unite these diverse groups. Our screen cast, Unite Talk, explains our approach as well as the underlying research. Recent survey results, highlighted in this graphic, illuminate the effectiveness of our approach.

We seek partners who want to disrupt the current literacy landscape in their schools or communities by focusing on the higher purpose of creating lifelong learners. These partners represent every part of the public, private, and civic sectors:

  • Foundations, both corporate and private; an increasing number of foundations have increased or expanded the focus of their projects to include families and young children. Our tools help these groups achieve the highest magnitude of impact for changing family’s lives.
  • Nonprofits; Many nonprofit, charitable, and cultural institutions engage with families in their communities to communicate important messages that inspire action to support their cause. We partner with these organizations to share their message in a new way, in the form of children’s books. To ensure local cultural relevancy, we offer language narration services to the institutions to further help them meaningfully engage their audience. Additionally, we help our nonprofit partners identify grants and corporate or private sponsorships to fund the distribution of the printed books.
  • Literacy Coalitions; In many areas of the country, like-minded community members and groups have already banded together to combat low literacy rates. We work with these coalitions to identify areas of need, implement innovative solutions to book distribution, and increase their sources of funding and support.
  • Schools and Libraries; Teachers and librarians are important literacy role models and mentors for underserved families, particularly ESL populations. We work with districts and individual educators to promote home literacy and school readiness. We provide free access to our online library, as well as tools and strategies that bolster family engagement around books and reading.
  • Businesses; Increasingly, companies seek more meaningful and measurable ways to accomplish social good for their communities while earning greater affinity and awareness for their brand. Unite for Literacy provides corporations with cost-effective print and digital solutions. Our sponsor-based model supports literacy in the community by providing books to families. We also work with companies to expand their corporate social responsibility and employee engagement initiatives for even greater local impact.