The Issue: High Reading Skills Indicate Scholastic Success
"Children who read on grade level by the end of third grade are more successful in school, work, and life," according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The foundation backs up this claim with data from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test. That same year, 85 percent of students from low-income families were unable to reach the test's "proficient" level. Many of these children lack regular access to age-appropriate books, and therefore go without the opportunities to improve their reading comprehension and maintain the same academic levels as their peers.
The Campaign: Books for Children from Low-Income Families
For every $9 this Grassroots campaign raises, First Book will distribute three brand-new books to children from low-income families, and three additional books thanks to in-kind matching donations from Disney Publishing Worldwide. First Book works to empower children with continuous supplies of new books throughout their childhoods so they can improve their reading skills, boost their desire to learn, and increase the amount they read at home. Volunteers recently distributed 17,000 new books to eight Title I schools in Newark and one million books across the United States in a single 10-day event.
All donations will be matched in-kind with three additional by Disney Publishing Worldwide up to one million books. You can follow the progress of this and other Grassroots campaigns at the Groupon Grassroots website.
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.