In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, hundreds of thousands of children lost everything, including their precious books. In September 2005, following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and in conjunction with Oprah's Book Club, with a selection of books by Mississippi native William Faulkner, Oprah's Angel Network awarded First Book a $250,000 grant to distribute books to children in the Gulf Coast. The funds support First Book's Book Relief program, with a goal of distributing more than 5 million new books to those impacted by the storms. Accomplishing this goal will take $2.5 million.
With the funds, First Book has been able to warehouse, conduct outreach for distribution, identify recipients, allocate and distribute 500,000 books in the Gulf Coast region. Over the next three years, the grant will enable First Book to restock school and public libraries as well as distribute more books.
It takes just 50 cents to place a book in the hands of a child or adult impacted by the hurricanes. If you want to donate to First Book's Book Relief program, visit their website at www.firstbook.org.
First Book initially received an Angel Network Award in conjunction with the Oprah's Book Club selection The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. First Book gives children from low-income families the chance to read and own their first new books. The children served by First Book are the hardest to reach and live below the nation's poverty level. First Book works through existing preschool and after-school programs through a carefully designed national network of volunteer local Advisory Boards as well as the First Book National Book Bank.
The Advisory Boards are comprised of educators, non-profit and business leaders, librarians, and other community volunteers. They identify programs in their area doing the best job of reaching disadvantaged children and First Book provides these programs with free books and educational supplies. With the support of First Book, programs develop lessons around the books they select, share these books with participating children, and give the books to the children to take home to share with siblings and other family members. First Book's system supports the work of the local heroes already running literacy programs and helps them become full partners with the children, school systems and families they serve. In the last three years, First Book has distributed 20 million books to disadvantaged children across the U.S.
First Book also established the First Book National Book Bank with partners from the Children's Book Council, the National School Supply and Equipment Association, and the United States Coast Guard. It is the first online centralized system allowing First Book's publishing partners to donate large quantities of new books to give to programs serving low-income children. The First Book National Book Bank hosts several book distribution events in cities throughout the country each year, giving local programs and national nonprofit partners the opportunity to receive bonus books for the children they serve.
The initial Angel Network Award supported First Book communities in Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas as well as expanded the network of Advisory Boards to new communities in those states. Twenty communities will be served in this region. An estimated 65,000 new books will be distributed to nearly 20,000 children—now, even more children will benefit.
President: Ms. Kyle Zimmer
1319 F Street, N.W., Suite 1000
Washington, D.C. 20004
E-mail: Beth Bingham at BookRelief@FirstBook.org
Published on May 31, 2004