First Book

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First Book’s Community of Educators Tops 275,000, Provides Growing Insights, Market Power to Further Educational Equity

Network Now Reaches 20 Percent of Classrooms, Programs Serving Children in Need 

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2016 – A second grade teacher in Atlanta, the executive director of a literacy program in Nashville, and a school librarian in Lyman, Wyo.  These are just a few of the growing number of educators and program leaders supported by First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides affordable new books and educational resources to educators serving children from low-income families. This month, First Book’s community of educators topped 275,000 – a 76 percent increase since the beginning of 2015 - making it the largest and fastest growing educational network serving children in need in North America. First Book now supports an estimated one in five educators working in the lives of children in need in the U.S. 

First Book, which has operations in both the U.S. and Canada, works with formal and informal educators serving children in need ages 0-18 in a wide range of settings – from schools, classrooms, summer school and park and rec programs, to health clinics, homeless shelters, faith-based programs, libraries, museums, summer food sites and more.  The organization estimates there are more than 1.3 million classrooms and programs that are serving children in need in the U.S. alone, more than 5,000 of which sign up with First Book every month.

“As the First Book network of educators continues to grow, we are gaining new insight regarding the educational barriers for children from low-income families, how educators apply books and resources in their teaching, what resonates with kids in need, and what additional resources can help address the opportunity gap and increase educational achievement,” said Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book. 

In surveys of educators and program leaders working with First Book:

  • 93 percent say their goal is to foster a lifelong love of reading among the children they serve;
  • 79 percent say they use First Book resources to help their students read at grade level;
  • 65 percent say they are striving to create opportunities for parents and caregivers to read to their kids regularly;
  • 53 percent use resources they receive from First Book to foster children’s character development and personal growth; and
  • 51 percent use books and resources from First Book as a way to enable kids to learn about other cultures and experiences.

Fifty-two percent of children served through First Book live in urban areas; 26 percent in rural areas, 20 percent in suburban areas and 2 percent live in Indian/Tribal Nation communities. 

“Educators and programs serving children in need are on the front lines every day, working to meet curriculum standards or provide high quality afterschool programming, support students’ social and emotional learning, and engage parents – all far too often without the benefit of books and basic supplies,” said Zimmer.  “With an estimated 32 million children growing up in low-income families – now more than half of all students in U.S. public schools -- it is critical to arm heroic educators with best-in-class resources of all kinds.”

By aggregating the needs and buying power of educators and programs serving children in need, First Book has created a growing, viable market for publishers and suppliers, enabling First Book to access and develop the best quality books and educational resources – at the lowest possible prices or for free.  

Through the organization’s newly redesigned First Book Marketplace, the award-winning e-commerce site, educators can access high-quality, new books, learning materials and special needs items specially curated to address the needs of children from low-income families. A built-in feedback loop, as well as polls and surveys, enable educators to drive the resources and tools they need for the children they serve.  

To date, First Book has distributed almost 150 million books and resources to kids in need. First Book recruits third-party funding through individual donors, corporate funders and foundations for schools and programs that have low or no budgets for books and other resources. 

“In a world of abundance for so many, no child should be growing up without books and basic educational resources,” said Zimmer. “Through our partnerships with publishers, educators, suppliers, corporations and funders, we have the tools to impact the lives of millions of children. The great news is that by unlocking the future for our children, we also create enormous economic opportunities, as we open the power of new ideas and innovation fueled by education.  This is a truly inspiring and breathtaking opportunity – and we can make this happen.”

About First Book

First Book is a nonprofit, social enterprise that provides new books, learning materials and essentials to children in need. First Book has distributed nearly 150 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. First Book's membership of more than 275,000 teachers and program leaders is the largest and fastest growing network of educators serving children from low-income families. By making new, high-quality books and essentials available to them on an ongoing basis, First Book is transforming lives, so that every child can have equal access to a quality education. Eligible educators, librarians, program leaders, and others serving children in need can sign up at firstbook.org/register. For more information, please visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.