First Book believes that education is the best way out of poverty for children in need. First Book aims to remove barriers to quality education for all kids by making everything from new, high-quality books and educational resources to sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more – affordable to its member network of more than 475,000 educators who exclusively serve kids in need.
Since 1992, First Book has distributed more than 185 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income communities in more than 30 countries. First Book currently reaches an average of 5 million children every year and supports more than one in three of the estimated 1.3 million classrooms and programs serving children in need.
With an additional 1,000 educators joining each week, First Book is the largest and fastest-growing network of educators in the United States exclusively serving kids in need. First Book members work in classrooms, after school and summer or early childhood programs, shelters and health clinics, libraries, community programs, military support programs, and other settings serving a majority of children in need.
First Book is rooted in diversity, inclusion, and togetherness and we aim to apply our expertise to join the fight for racial equity.
But access to quality education is far from equal. Significant barriers stand in the way for kids in low-income communities, including scarce books and learning materials, and a lack of diversity in the books that do reach them. Even their most basic needs go unmet. First Book’s mission is to remove these barriers so every child has the chance to learn.
Books and resources impact everything from psychological well-being to academic performance, but kids in need don’t have that advantage.
- Books and resources are critical. Access to adequate resources is one of the greatest contributors to educational inequality in the United States.
- Just the presence of books in the home improves educational outcomes.
- Books and resources have been shown to have a positive relationship with interest in reading, academic and writing performance, and language development.
- Despite all this, books and resources are scarce for kids in need–meaning they are at a disadvantage from the start. Research has identified vast ‘book deserts’ concentrated in low-income communities across the U.S.—with one community having only a single book to be shared among as many as 830 children.
The scale of the issue is significant. So is the impact.
- Poverty is reshaping education. 51% of students across the nation’s public schools are low income; coming to school without even their basic needs met and under extreme stress.
- Public schools do not have the funding necessary to address the need. 23 states spend less on public education than they did a decade ago.
- The long-term economic devastation is deep and broad. The effect of an inequitable educational system is the equivalent of a national recession.
First Book transforms the lives of children in need by making brand-new, high-quality books and resources affordable and available to the educators and kids who need them most.
- 185 million books and resources distributed to date.
- 5 million children reached annually.
- 475,000 registered members, with 1,000 new educators joining weekly.
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