Learning in

REAL time...

The REAL (Reading and Educational Assistance for Learning) Program's mission is to improve literacy in Lynn, Massachusetts—a city 100,000 people call home.


What People Say

We like keeping it REAL, so we are always asking for feedback!

Victoria Hackett, M.Ed.
Founder of Outdoor-Classrooms.com

“The more that you read, the more things that you will know, the more that you learn, the more places that you’’ll go.”
—Dr. Seuss


Did you know that the city of Lynn, MA only has 1 public library and only half of the children attend preschool? The REAL Program is filling this void. Literacy is the name of the game at the REAL Program and their unique programming and multigenerational approach to learning and teaching is what sets them apart. With Literacy as a core value, The REAL Program has become a safe haven and a place for so many children and adults to thrive. The REAL Program is a community, a family, and a place that offers homework assistance, healthy snacks and an outdoor classroom, along with ESL classes, enrichment opportunities and so much more. The REAL magic is in reading.  

Kim Manon
REAL mom

Hello everyone!


I'm Kim Manon, mother of Fadi Hilali. I am writing this testimonial with lots of love and gratitude for all the support and the great services that you have provided for my son in the past five years at the Real Program. Fadi has achieved so many goals!  He has improved immensely in the areas of Reading, Math and Art. I can't say enough good things; I am so grateful that he got to the point where he feels comfortable with talking in class and talking with his teacher if necessary. I couldn't be happier seeing the transformation that took place.  

Thank you to all the support staff from the bottom of my heart :) 

Kid Playing with Bubble


The REAL Preschool is currently being built and licensed. We have made great progress installing a new bathroom with hand sanitizing stations, a new sprinkler system, and more! 

Please stay tuned! 

Helping Hands

Nice To Meet You

Our team has REAL passion about this program; their stories are our success!

  • Jan Plourde

    Executive Director, Founder

    Jan founded our program in 2013. Under her leadership, the program has grown and thrived. Read all about her amazing REAL life here!

  • Betsy Brown

    Lead Mentor

    "Betsy Brown brings a wealth of teaching experience and knowledge as REAL lead mentor. She taught in Beverly Public Schools and she continues to teach at The REAL Program. The kids love her, respect her and they always ask for Mrs. Brown. She especially loves poetry and she shares this love with the children."    – Narayan Plourde

  • Sarah Kaull

    President of the Board

    "I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Sarah for the past couple of years now. Sarah brought with her a fresh perspective, experience, and the ability to communicate her ideas in a way that stimulates real thought. She is an innovating thinker, a clear communicator, and her passion to invest in our kids is simply contagious. Sarah’s tireless work and willingness to do whatever it takes to create The Real Program’s vision into a reality has been proven through her efforts and her strong belief in investing in our community. Her involvement with our nonprofit has been transformational and The Real Program has evolved in large part due to Sarah’s skills around envisioning and catalyzing positive change."    – Cristina Andrei

  • Rachel Shwartz

    Secretary of the Board

    "What can I say about Rachel?! Rachel is this selfless woman who gives it her all. When it comes to The REAL Program she goes above and beyond to make sure that the plans we have are well executed. She is always smiling and the way she talks to people is really pleasing to the eyes. She takes her time to talk and listen. Rachel is amazing, caring, compassionate and a great woman to be on the board with, the flavor that she bring to the program cannot be duplicated. Rachel is one of a kind!" – Martine Georges

  • Robert (Narayan) Plourde

    Board Member

    "Narayan brings a quietly unique, effective, and quietly thoughtful perspective to the Board. Nepalese by birth, brought to this country at age four by his adoptive parents, and now in his late twenties, Narayan has an intuitive sense of how to navigate life’s challenges in a culture where one may well feel marginalized or out-of-mainstream, and where things are not always easy. He sets his course in accord with what he absorbs as an avid reader, discovers through his active curiosity, perceives artistically through his photography—and is motivated by his solid work ethic and a deep sense of kindness and compassion."    – Marc Winer

  • Cristina Andrei 

    Treasurer of the Board

    "Cristina and her husband are true believers and dedicated to the sometimes-elusive American dream. Cristina studied economics and she is making her career in the world of finance. She is a dedicated board member who serves on the finance committee, of course. The REAL Program is fortunate to have this Lynn resident involved and supporting the community."    – Jan Plourde

  • Marc Winer

    Board Member

    "Marc is the guy who is like the deep well: he is a true listener and a compassionate teacher who speaks and writes with measure. He has a great deal of experience as a non-profit board leader, board member, community member, teacher, parent, and grandparent. We take none of it for granted but we are surely going to listen and learn."    – Jan Plourde

  • Martine Georges

    Board Member

    "I am so proud to know Martine Georges. This young woman is bright, determined, and capable of so many great things. Her children are, too. Martine is a board member and a recent college graduate (while working full time and raising her two children). Martine and her husband show their children and the REAL family what commitment is all about. Martine is a fabulous photographer, too!"    – Jan Plourde

  • Diane Christian

    Board Member

    "I have known Diane for a while now. First, as our newest board member and, more recently, as my co-mentor in our ongoing work with the REAL kids. We have worked together virtually and we find ourselves highly compatible. I feel the same way about her as a member of the board. Her enthusiasm comes through in everything she does. She is ready to tackle anything that we as a board have tried to accomplish for our kids and their families. She contributes her ideas and thoughts that we have presented as a group and that is so essential to make this program work. As the longest standing board member, I have seen her fit right in with the way that this program functions and step up to all of the needs of The REAL Program. She is an asset to this board and will only become more so as she continues to work with this program. It is great to have her on board!"    – Betsy Brown

  • Raisa Ferreras

    Board Member

    "I met Raisa Ferreras for the first time during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our foundation wanted to help buy and donate food and grocery gift cards to the families at Real. She was there to meet us to collect the items. I had never met her and the first time that I did I immediately connected with her. She had a big smile on her face and she greeted me warmly and openly. She has been the same ever since our first encounter. Raisa is a caring and giving person. She goes the extra mile to help others and does so in a kind and thoughtful way. She has worked very hard at completing her education while volunteering at the Real Program. She has done so much for the Real Program in these past few months to help the families and be available to get the things they need."    – Diane Christian


    They come from all over to make a REAL difference!

    Bob Appolloni (Wakefield); Kathleen Arenburg (Lynn); Betsy Brown (Beverly); Diane Christian (Marblehead); Judy Connor (Salem); Martha Curry (Swampscott); Lauren Doherty (Beverly); Nancy Freehling (Saugus); Mary Hoar (Beverly); Chuck Juliand (Salem); Donna Staller (Beverly)

  • Care to Join Us?

    We'd love to have you... for REAL!

    Contact us for more information!

And if you think our team is cute, you should see...

Image by Diego PH

Key Supporters

When it comes to generosity and dedication, our sponsors are the REAL deal. 

Someone Else's Child is a very special organization with philanthropic energy and interest in really changing the world, especially for children in nearby Lynn. We have been very fortunate to meet the founders, Mike and Diane Christian, who have truly invested in us and in many other nonprofit organizations that focus on children. We are excited about our future collaborations, partnerships and shared goals.

Breckinridge Capital Advisors is a Boston-based financial company with a mind on building community.

The Breckinridge team has brought volunteers to help us build little free libraries, collect books, help with our annual fundraiser, communicate with children as pen pals; arranged trips to the Museum of Science and we REALLY look forward to working and growing together. Our special thanks to James, Kelly and Sabrina of Breckinridge for keeping us in their hearts and minds.

If you have ever attended The REAL Night Out fundraiser you would know that Kelly's Roast Beef is so much more than a delicious roast beef sandwich or a box of clams from Revere. Kelly's is a community-minded business who we have come to think of as family. We truly appreciate you, Kellys Roast Beef!

The Kurt and Therese Melden Family Foundation

The Kurt and Therese Melden Family Foundation The Meldens support since we founded has been consistent and generous. We owe a debt of gratitude to them as we may not have made the strides we have made without the confidence they have shown in our work to improve literacy in Lynn. They walk the walk!

Promise the Children UU is an advocacy group lead by Becky Richardson. Becky and her team have hosted fundraising events, Arnold's Day for the children, provided volunteers, face-masks, food, books and a community of kindness. Becky is widely respected by her Nahant neighbors and peers and Becky even made a t shirt that says "Ask me about REAL"! This is REAL advocacy.

The REAL (Reading and Educational Assistance for Learning) Program's mission is to improve literacy in Lynn, Massachusetts.

The REAL Program is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. 
Donate or volunteer today!

The REAL Program, Inc.

Payne Family Literacy House
17 Atlantic Street • Lynn, MA 01902

Director: Jan Plourde • 978-993-4425 • jan@therealprogram.org

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