Bronx is Reading names Start Lighthouse founder Mover and Shaker of the year

Rina at Event
Rina Madhani, co-founder and executive director of Start Lighthouse
Photos courtesy of Rina Mahani

Imagine starting a nonprofit during a pandemic. Well, Rina Madhani did exactly that. In 2020, sensing the difficulty for children to access books, she launched Start Lighthouse.

Since its inception, Start Lighthouse has given away thousands of books in the south Bronx, teamed up with AOC, discussed voting and created a social justice literacy program as well.

Her work has not gone unnoticed and recently she was named The Bronx is Reading winner of the Mover and Shaker of the Year Award. This an annual award honors a literary revolutionary within the Bronx community.

“I feel a sense of immense gratitude,” she said about the award. “I wanted to start my organization for the past few years and I was always waiting for the right time. “I’ve learned a lot about myself as a leader.”

Madhani will take part in a special in-conversation with a surprise guest author at our first-ever Virtual Educator Day, on June 11, as part of this year’s fourth annual The Bronx Book Festival.

Madhani, 28, of Manhattan, does analytics for Success Academy Charter Schools and from 2015 to 2017 was a teacher in the south Bronx. As an educator, she already knew the struggle those children and families faced and during the pandemic, their struggles were magnified.

According to Madhani, she is blown away by the success the nonprofit has had. Having a positive impact on people and helping them during COVID-19 wans quite meaningful, she noted.

Having collected 4,000 books in a little more than a year, she hopes to continue serving the south Bronx and one day become a national nonprofit. Madhani recalled how happy parents and children were when they received books from Start Lighthouse.

“I’m just scratching the surface,” she stated. “The most rewarding part is I’ve been able to build my own community. We launched during a pandemic and it hasn’t been the easiest to be able to lead a nonprofit during this time.”




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