When she was a tutor to children from low-income families in Washington, DC, Kyle Zimmer was amazed by how excited students would get whenever given their own books. As she relayed in a 2011 New York Times story, this work inspired Zimmer to start First Book, an organization dedicated to making reading materials accessible to children in need.
Today, nearly 20 years after Zimmer's eureka moment, First Book works toward this goal through two channels: the First Book Marketplace, an online store with quality books—including Caldecott and Newbery award-winners—available at up to 90% below the retail price, and the First Book National Book Bank, a clearinghouse for publishers’ excess inventory. To date, the organization has distributed more than 100 million books and educational resources to 50,000 schools and programs throughout the United States and Canada—with more added each month.
The impact has been inspiring. An internal study found that 70% of children reported reading more at home after receiving books from First Book. In recognition of this and other accomplishments, the organization has received numerous awards and honors, including the 2005 Nonprofit Innovation Award and a four-star rating from Charity Navigator.
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During the summer Horton’s Kids Summer Camp helps provide students with a healthy, constructive environment, mitigating the "summer slide" in literacy that can occur during the long break and engaging kids with outings around the city. Throughout the six-week program, students focus on improving their literacy in half-day classes and exploring DC on daily field trips. Some excursions promote fitness, such as trips to the pool, and others focus on education, such as visits to museums. The summer camp also augments the class work and activities with healthy meals and snacks every day of the program.
As their motto goes, "It's all about the music." Eschewing props, costumes, and staging for a focus on the sounds of voices and instruments, the Washington Concert Opera seeks to thrill audiences with performances by some of the profession's leading lights. Their stripped-down approach allows the company to focus on rarely produced works, from little-known Rossinis to classic Puccini B-sides.
Each year, the organization's Summer Games program provides 250,000 children across the Gaza Strip with an opportunity to participate in a range of activities including swimming, acting, art projects, and various enriching discussions. Previous Summer Games activities have achieved new world records for the most kites flown simultaneously and the most people dribbling basketballs simultaneously. However, some children who wish to participate in the Summer Games do not own the clothing they need to feel confident among their peers or fully involve themselves in every event. To help ensure each child has appropriate clothing to fully engage in each activity, American Friends of UNRWA equips Summer Games participants with a cap, shirt, and a pair of sneakers, all of which are funded by donor contributions.
The Neighbors in Need Fund is a project of the Community Foundation that responds to economic hardship with donations of food, clothing, shelter, and aid with foreclosure prevention. The fund also reinforces community support networks, such as medical and mental care facilities. The Neighbors in Need Fund distributes food and funds across the region through more than 700 partner organizations and has provided aid to more than 100,000 people since its inception in 2008.
With a dash of classic sensibility strewn upon a modern menu and space, Edgar stands out from the pack of DCs many bistros. Washingtonian magazine may have put that confluence best: "While the Mayflower Hotel’s former bar and restaurant, Town & Country, epitomized old-school Washington…the new concept that debuted in late December  has all the trappings of current dining culture." Now known as Edgar Bar and Kitchen—in honor of historic power-lunch regular J. Edgar Hoover—the redesigned eatery takes a global approach when delivering on its promise of casual, yet refined American cuisine and drinks. Beginning with mostly locally sourced ingredients, Chef Andrew Morrison designed his menu with roots firmly tied to historic European and American bistro cuisine. Mediterranean and Asian flavors occasionally make an appearance too, lending a bit of eclectic flair to flatbreads, grilled steaks, and roasted seafood. Not to be outshined by the food, a well-curated drink menu bolsters bites with locally crafted microbrews and first-growth Bordeaux wines. Amber-hued Irish whiskeys, scotches, bourbons, and cognacs dominate the spirits selection, although vodkas and gins are prominent in specialty cocktails mixed with ginger liqueur or muddled strawberries. Befitting the American-style brasserie's historic location, Edgar Bar and Kitchen's dining room includes a handful of earlier-era touches, such as accent walls of exposed brick and cubbies filled with wood crates originally used to ship whiskey and wine across the Atlantic. But much like the menu, the space toes the line between old and new, yet truly leans more toward the modern. Semicircular leather booths surround gleaming wood tables, disc-like pendant lanterns dangle from the ceilings, and small planters brim with blooming yellow flowers.