Serving Monroe, Owen, and Greene Counties

Meet Mark Rogers: Real Men Read MENtor

It's back-to-school season and for Real Men Read volunteer MENtors like Mark Rogers, that means a return to the classroom. Mark, President and CEO of the Owen County Community Foundation, has been a volunteer with United Way's Real Men Read program since its inception. Real Men Read brings men from the community in to visit kindergarten classrooms around the area and read to students to build strong literacy skills and to introduce them to male educational role models who are a historically underrepresented group in elementary education. At the end of each visit, MENtors give out books that every student gets to take home to build their home libraries and continue growing as readers.

"Knowing the family situations for many of the kids, there’s a lot of poverty and home life can be tough. I like the idea of role models and especially being a part of that educational process for them" Rogers explained. " I just enjoy the faces on the little kids. They really do enjoy it. You know, you get immediate satisfaction back from their participation. We ask them questions and their answers are always silly and fun and entertaining. It never lasts long enough for my taste."

It’s hard to say if the MENtors or students enjoy the program more. "When somebody comes in from outside it’s a special day. Miss Taylor always makes a big deal of it that we have a visitor. They realize that something special is being done just for them. They seem really excited and pleased and grateful for it. They get to know that people out in the community care about them enough to come
to visit and that people are there to help them," says Rogers.

Mark finds that his time volunteering goes hand-in-hand with his professional life at the Owen County Community Foundation. "It’s in keeping with our values that our members be involved in the community," Rogers shared with us. "We also grant funds to this program. It’s helpful for me to be in the schools as much as I can because we do so much funding for them."

Thanks to Mark and all of our Real Men Read MENtors for making a positive difference in the lives of young learners throughout the region! Real Men Read will expand into Eastern Greene Schools this fall and will continue to serve kindergarten students in Richland-Bean Blossom and Spencer-Owen Community Schools. If you are interested in becoming a Real Men Read sponsor or volunteer, contact Amy Leyenbeck at (812) 334-8370 ext 11 or amy (at)


Do you want to strengthen education in our community?

Please consider donating to the United Way Education Priority Fund. This fund helps children achieve their potential through cradle-to-career initiatives that ensure kids enter kindergarten ready to learn and graduate high school ready to earn success in college or career.

Want to learn more about the other building blocks for a good life? Visit Earnings and Essentials to see how we are making an impact.

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