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Posts in category Philanthropy
When Estrella Elementary opened their doors in 2010, they had barely any books available to students. A Title I school located in an impoverished Los Angeles neighborhood, Estrella can only supply a limited number of books and educational resources to each classroom, and has no books at all to help their students at home.
This lack is not lost on the teachers and staff.
“They need much more than just classroom reading,” said Ana Martinez, a teacher at Estrella Elementary. “Schools and individual classrooms alike need a plethora of books that will spark student’s interest and that will inspire them to learn on their own.”
Thanks to the generosity of the Guru Krupa Foundation, First Book was able to change that.
Before Estrella closed its doors for summer vacation, every student was able to select up to three books to take home as their own, combating the summer slide. The students were overjoyed. Some asked when they had to return the books. The answer is: never. Those books are theirs to keep and read over summer vacation.
“I can’t wait to read these books during the summer,” said Alma, a third-grader. “I always wanted my very own chapter book. I’m going to set a goal to finish all three books over the summer. I want to read to my mom and little brothers so that they can learn English too.”
Estrella Elementary is one of 14 schools that now have brand-new books to put into the hands of their students thanks to the Guru Krupa Foundation. Through a generous grant, the Guru Krupa Foundation has made an immense impact by distributing more than 9,500 books across 14 different schools in Los Angeles.
It was an article in the New York Times that first drew the attention of Mukund Padmanabhan, president of the Guru Krupa Foundation, to First Book.
“The New York Times article made us aware of First Book’s activities, and funding a project with them to put books into the hands of young readers fit right in with our education-related initiatives,” said Mukund Padmanabhan. “We at Guru Krupa Foundation believe that education is a cornerstone for future success in life. Supporting initiatives that bring the benefits of education to underprivileged children can lead to enormous future dividends, not only for the children but to society.”
Guru Krupa Foundation is a New York based private foundation that funds various initiatives related to education, health, and basic sustenance of underprivileged children in India and the United States.
Taylor Felice, a dedicated supporter of First Book, recently ran the Brooklyn Half-Marathon. Not only did she accomplish the goal of running the race but she also accomplished something else – getting books into the hands of kids in need.
Taylor aimed to raise $1800 through First Book to provide 400 brand-new books to kids in need. She surpassed this goal and doubled it, raising $2,182.85 via a First Book virtual book drive. Due to Taylor’s tireless efforts, 873 brand-new books will be going into the hands of children in need.
First Book: What made you want to run a half-marathon? Are you typically a runner and/or participate in a lot of races?
Taylor: My brother’s girlfriend actually got me to run the half-marathon. She ran the Brooklyn Half-Marathon last year and while I was standing at the finish line l became completely overwhelmed with emotion. I watched hundreds of runners in all shapes and sizes crossing and decided that if they could do it, I could too. Before this, I was more of a causal runner that did it for the exercise and had participated in a few short races prior to training for the half-marathon.
First Book: Out of all of the organizations you could have raised money for, why did you choose First Book?
Taylor: My mom and her best friend, Shelly, began participating in a reading program at a school in New Haven – when she went to the library to pick out books, the shelves were basically bare. After they got over the initial shock, they began reaching out to friends and family all over Connecticut to collect new and gently used books to help make the library a “happy” destination for the students.
Before my mom told me about the school, I’d never really thought about the availability of a book. We always hear about poverty and the difficulty of getting people nutritious food and sufficient clothing but you’d think within the walls of a child’s school he or she would have access to reading materials.
I was fortunate to go to an elementary school with a library full of books as far as the eye could see. I’ve always been interested in working with and helping children – and while attending Tulane University, I volunteered in the New Orleans public school system – one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. If I can give back to children in low-income housing like many of my former students and inspire them to continue for greatness, I’d consider this half-marathon and these fundraising efforts a success. When I started my research for an organization, I knew I wanted something in the children’s education sector and I decided on First Book because I love to read and after research, knew that the money I was asking family and friends for would truly make a difference.
Taylor: When I first saw this statistic, I was sad – that’s really the only way I can explain my initial response. After getting over the initial shock, I was disappointed – how could children be so far from the opportunity to read a book? How could I have been so naive to never have thought about the possibility that it would be so difficult for children to have the opportunity to turn a page in a fairytale? I know how much I appreciate and enjoy a good book and I hope that some of these children that may struggle in low-income neighborhoods can find an escape inside one of the books that they receive from First Book.
First Book: Why do you think it’s so important for children to have access to brand-new books?
Taylor: When you’re a child, something shiny and new is a source of pride – its yours and yours alone and it becomes a part of your identity. Whether it’s a toy, a new piece of clothing or in this case a book, donating something new to a child, instantly becomes special. I think it’s important for children to have books because it inspires imagination and sparks their creativity; as an adult, I still love to read and let my imagination wander along with the characters.
First Book: Thanks to your outstanding efforts, at least 873 brand-new books will be going into the hands of children in need. (That number is of course still increasing by the day!) How does it make you feel to know that you are making such a huge impact?
Taylor: At first I was proud that I’d made the decision to support a nonprofit – and then I was a little hesitant to start asking people for money. Once the money started coming in and I beat both my first and revised goals, I was humbled by the outpouring of generosity from friends and family. Seeing the number of books is great but thinking about making 873 children smile is better than anything.
First Book: What has prompted you to be so involved with volunteerism? Did someone in your family emphasize the importance of reading?
Taylor: My family has been involved with charities and volunteer work for as long as I can remember – it’s part of who we are. My parents read to my brother and me a lot and my grandfather used to tell us that he didn’t care what we read as long as we read something. They all knew how important books were to our education and development.
To get brand-new books into the hands of kids in need like Taylor did, visit www.firstbook.org and start your very own virtual book drive today.
First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books to programs and schools serving children in need. Dedicated volunteers around the country (called First Book “Advisory Boards”) raise funds in their communities to provide brand-new books to local schools and programs, and YOU can be a part of that.
Learn New Skills
Volunteering with First Book means you can gain new skills, adding professional value to resumes and college applications. There are a wide range of skills that you can develop, including community outreach, partnership building, fundraising, event planning and grant writing.
Meet New People
When you volunteer, you get to meet new people who share the same interests. Volunteering can lead to networking opportunities or even new friends! You will have all kinds of things to talk about as you discuss why you decided to volunteer with First Book when meeting and interacting with fellow volunteers.
By volunteering your time with a First Book Advisory Board in your community, you are furthering First Book’s mission and getting books into the hands of kids in your local area. Advisory Board members can impact the quality of education for local programs and classrooms by providing books and resources.
It’s Good For You
When you are looking for something new to do that’s good for you, volunteering keeps you busy and active. According to health and fitness website, Greatist.com, a past study has shown that “People who volunteered for selfless reasons and to create valuable relationships decreased the risk of mortality.” Not only does volunteering give you a sense of fulfillment, but also wellness.
If you offer your time and volunteer with First Book then you will be helping us get brand-new books into the hands of more kids in need. Together we can transform the lives of children in need and elevate the quality of education.
Find out more information about how you can volunteer with First Book by clicking here.
Today’s guest blog post is from Ann Shaw, Director of Philanthropy for Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women. Ann has held this volunteer role for the past six years. She received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arkansas and her Master’s in Education from the University of New Orleans. Ann taught for over 25 years as an early childhood teacher and is passionate about literacy.
In 1987, the U.S. Congress designated March as Women’s History Month to ensure that the history of American women would be recognized and celebrated in schools, work places and communities throughout the country.
Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women was founded in 1867 by 12 students at Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois who were the pioneers of the women’s fraternal movement. While our country was rebuilding after the Civil War, few women attended college. The women of Pi Beta Phi were visionaries of their time not only because they founded the Fraternity and patterned it after the men’s fraternal organizations of that time, but also because they were philanthropically minded and wished to better society.
Pi Beta Phi members continued their philanthropic interests by creating a school in 1912 in the remote Appalachian Mountain hamlet of Gatlinburg, Tennessee to provide formal education. In November 2012, Pi Beta Phi members celebrated 100 years of literacy service in Gatlinburg. From their original mission to the continuing legacy of Pi Beta Phi Elementary School and the Arrowmont® School of Arts and Crafts, Pi Beta Phis are proud of their commitment to literacy not only in Gatlinburg but across the United States and Canada.
In the next 100 years, Pi Phi’s Read. Lead. Achieve.® literacy platform will continue to provide direction for Pi Phi’s mission “to lead the way to a more literate society” through its partnership with First Book, Champions are Readers program, Arrow in the Arctic, Fraternity Day of Service and local initiatives.
Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book, is a visionary too, as she had the dream to put books into the hands of undeserved children through the inception of First Book. Both organizations work to end illiteracy and realize the importance of reading and how it is a predictor of success in school and life.
Both organizations work to end illiteracy and realize the importance of reading and how it is a predictor of success in school and life.
Pi Phi strives to lead the way to a more literate society and has supported First Book’s mission financially and through the volunteer efforts of our members. First Book and Pi Beta Phi are making a difference in the lives of children through their philanthropic efforts to create rich literacy environments, improve interest in reading and encourage children to be readers.
While we celebrate the accomplishments of women during National Women’s History Month, let us remember not only the women who have made significant accomplishments to better society but those women who read to their children, surround their children with books and encourage their children to love reading.
Pi Phi recently made a special edition of the title, Remember the Ladies: 100 Great American Women available to First Book’s schools and programs. If you work with kids from low-income families, sign your program or classroom up with First Book.
Every year, First Book provides close to ten million brand-new books to local schools and community programs across the country. To make that happen, we rely on the generosity of thousands of individual donors, grants from charitable foundations, and the revenue-generating (and someday self-sustaining) power of own First Book Marketplace.
But the most significant source of funding for First Book’s ever-growing programs is the support of our corporate partners – the companies that are investing in their communities every day by ensuring that kids from low-income families have the books and resources they need to become success stories.
One example of how First Book works hand-in-hand with socially responsible companies is our partnership with SunTrust Mortgage.
SunTrust Mortgage has made it possible for us to put a lot of books into the hands of a lot of kids. But they don’t just write us a check. They get involved in lots of ways, both big and small.
- SunTrust Mortgage employees – over 4,000 of them – have contributed over $500,000 to First Book since 2005. That generosity has put 400,000 brand-new books into classrooms and home libraries.
- SunTrust Mortgage sponsored a “Click Challenge” last year online; funds for 8,700 books were donated in a single week.
- SunTrust Mortgage employees volunteer their time as well. Recently they hand-delivered 1,500 books to John B. Cary Elementary School, Westover Hills Elementary School and G.W. Carver Elementary School, all Title I schools in Richmond, VA. (Richmond is home to one the strongest local First Book volunteer groups in the nation, made up largely of SunTrust Mortgage employees.)
Now, for the eighth year in a row, our friends at SunTrust Mortgage have stepped up with $50,000 that will provide more new books and resources to the educators and children we work with.
Thanks to everyone at SunTrust Mortgage. We couldn’t do it without you.
The students at Union Elementary School in Farmington, CT, decided to take action.
Some Union Elementary students came across First Book’s initiative to raise money to provide new books to children affected by Hurricane Sandy. They wanted to contribute to First Book’s effort, so they collected loose change for a month.
Mrs. Banta, the school’s main office clerk, hauled a big bucket of change to Farmington Savings Bank, and got a check for more than $400, enough to provide 160 brand-new books to children affected by Hurricane Sandy.
“The leadership, staff, teachers, students and families of Union School strongly share First Book’s belief that books are among the critical resources that children need every day, and we were so pleased with the strong response we received from everyone in collecting change to turn into dollars, then a check, then lots of books for kids,” said Jessica Lister, a Union Elementary School mom and publicity co-chair of the PTO.
Although the storm has passed, families and children are still living in shelters and have lost many of their personal belongings. You can help just as the kids at Union Elementary did, by clicking here. Every $2.50 you contribute will provide a new book to a child affected by the storm.
Together, we’ve put over 100 million new books into the hands of children who need them, and we’re counting on your support this holiday season. This year, thanks to our friends at Disney, the impact of your gift will be tripled!
Every $2.50 donated to First Book provides one brand-new, high-quality book for a child from a low-income family. And Disney has agreed to match every one of those books with two additional books, from now through the end of the year. Click here to donate.
As always, when you donate to First Book, you can be sure your money is being used wisely; 97% of donations to First Book go directly to provide new, high-quality books to kids in need. (That’s how we won our four-star rating from Charity Navigator.)
Thanks for being part of our work, and happy holidays from everyone at First Book!