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First Book Provides 300,000 Books to West Virginia Kids

WASHINGTON, Aug. 23, 2011 -- First Book has provided 294,228 brand-new books to children in need across West Virginia, and plans to distribute 14,000 more by the end of the summer.

"With our reading scores what they are in the state, we need to get more books into the hands of these kids," said Angela Fedele of the WE CAN Program, a statewide program based in Princeton, W.Va., that provides volunteer mentors for at-risk kids. "Our kids don't have dreams, aspirations, hopes. They don't even think about college; it's not in their minds. That's why these books are so important. Books are the beginning of everything. You learn about other places, you learn about the world."

Fedele was able to provide $3,000 worth of new books for the children in her program, thanks to a combination of grant money and support from local First Book volunteers.

First Book, a nonprofit organization, works with over 400 programs and schools like the WE CAN Program across West Virginia. Each of these programs is eligible for up to $800 worth of credits enabling teachers and program leaders to purchase new and popular titles on the First Book Marketplace, an online site available exclusively to programs serving children from low-income communities.

The credits are available registered programs now through August 31, just in time for back-to-school preparations.

Newly-registered programs will also benefit from the federal grant, receiving $250 in credit to put toward the purchase of new books for their children. Any school, classroom or program serving kids from low-income families is eligible to sign up with First Book online.

"The impact of having books to call their own is incredibly positive for children," said Kyle Zimmer, First Book's president and CEO. "Especially for kids from low-income families – books open the world to them. We're excited to help West Virginia educators inspire their students."

First Book's work in West Virginia was made possible by a $215,000 grant from the Department of Education. The original goal of the grant, awarded in 2008, was the distribution of 165,000 books to schools and programs in West Virginia. Since then, First Book and its network of local programs have almost doubled that, bringing hundreds of thousands of new books to children across the state.

EDITOR'S NOTE (photo and interview opportunity): Next week, community programs and local First Book volunteers will be throwing reading parties in Princeton, Aug. 29, and Parkersburg, Aug. 30, to deliver some of the books to children.

About First Book
First Book has distributed more than 85 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada.  By making new, high-quality books available on an ongoing basis, First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and the elevating the quality of education. For more information, please visit us online or follow our latest news on Facebook and Twitter.