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June 5, 2018

Dive in with the Hornes

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

It was thrilling to watch John and Amanda Horne take the stage at the recent 2018 National Restaurant Association’s Gala Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C., to receive the Restaurant Neighbor Award. More than 500 restaurant professionals gave John and Amanda a standing-ovation after learning about their innovative #DiveIntoReading program.

The Restaurant Neighbor is awarded by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and American Express to promote restaurants’ roles as cornerstones of their communities and highlights their efforts to improve quality of life.

The Dive Into Reading program was piloted in the summer of 2017 at one Anna Maria Oyster Bar location. The program reached 76 children who read over 1,600 books in a four-week period. The children the program reached were from economically challenged schools where often the students lose as much as two months of reading proficiency each summer. Through the efforts of John and Amanda Horne, their restaurant staff, their patrons who turned into Reading Mentors, and their strong community partners, the Dive Into Reading children gained 1.2 months of proficiency during the summer.

John Horne, in his acceptance speech, was quick to acknowledge the teamwork it took to launch this successful program. In fact, he flew two of his Anna Maria Oyster Bar team members, Chris Whittaker and Michael Madden, to Washington so they could share in the evening’s festivities. John also praised the loyal Anna Maria Oyster Bar patrons who stepped so willingly into the role of Reading Mentors for the students.

Not ones to rest on their laurels, John and Amanda have expanded the program in 2018.

Three hundred and fifty students are participating in Dive Into Reading at three Anna Maria Oyster Bar locations, a Gecko’s Restaurant, and the South Florida Museum.

Interested in joining them in making a difference for the children in our region? Contact Amanda Horne at

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