LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — (Press Release) – AR Kids Read was selected from over 100 applications to receive an award of $24,425 for new books that will expand AR Kids Read’s mission. First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise focused on equal access to quality education for children in need, awarded the funds as part of its OMG Books Awards: Offering More Great Books to Spark Innovation, a program that will give more than $4.7 million in funding to distribute 1.5 million brand new books and eBooks to children living in low-income communities in 33 U.S. states and territories.
AR Kids Read will use the award to achieve their goal of promoting access to books to promote reading proficiency. The funding allows them to impact both in and out-of-school time programming by giving away eight books to every student receiving in-school tutoring and one book each to students attending out-of-school programming events. Additionally, a few students will benefit from home libraries of at least 30 books. AR Kids Read will also register teachers,tutors, partners, and collaborators with First Book to further extend their impact. AR Kids Read’s work is built on the premise that literacy, tutoring, and books go hand in hand; this connection between the three are necessary for grade-level proficiency.
“We are excited to giveaway over 4,000 books from now through the spring!” said Dionne Jackson, Executive Director of AR Kids Read. “We look forward to utilizing community events, such as Tendaji, CDC’s Lights on After School, and our own tutoring program as avenues to distribute books.”
Awardees are using the funding to select books and eBooks from the First Book Marketplace (www.fbmarketplace.com), First Book’s award-winning eCommerce platform, that best meet the needs of the children they serve. Arkansas was among 9 states in the first cycle of awards. Additional awards will be granted throughout 2019. First Book estimates the total value of the books distributed will be more than $12 million.
“We know that access to books and eBooks makes a significant difference in a child’s future success,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book president, CEO, and cofounder. “Children do not thrive in deeply under-resourced environments and too many of the schools and programs have far too little. This deprivation has long-term consequences for the children, their families, their communities and our nation. This could not be more urgent. With the OMG Books Awards, First Book and Arkansas are investing not only in the future of the kids we’re reaching, but in the overall wellbeing of our nation.”
Access to adequate resources is one of the greatest contributors to educational success in the United States.1 Research indicates that just the presence of books in the home improves educational outcomes, yet low-income communities across the U.S. are plagued by vast ‘book deserts’—with one community having only a single book per as many as 830 children. Additionally, members of the First Book Network, who exclusively serve kids in need, have indicated that without First Book, the children they serve would have access to very few books, if any at all.
Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up to receive resources from First Book outside of OMG Books Awards at firstbook.org/join. For more information, please visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.