First Book

Equal access to quality education for children in need

First Book Press Releases

Mario Batali Foundation Celebrates it Triple Initiative to Invest in Boston's Children With Programs Focused on Literacy and Nutrition

Mario Batali Foundation Joins Forces with Books for Kids, First Book and FoodCorps to Build Libraries, Provide Free Books to Educators, and Make Nutritious Food Attractive and Accessible

BOSTON, March 22, 2017 – The Mario Batali Foundation (MBF) has made three major grants to improve literacy and nutrition for children in need in the Boston area. Kicking off the MBF initiative on Friday, March 31st at the Action for Boston Community Development’s (ABCD) Geneva Avenue Head Start program in Dorchester, the Mario Batali Foundation and its three grantees - Books for Kids, First Book and FoodCorps - will join together to present the programs being implemented and expanded in Boston with this funding.

To launch this exciting initiative, Mario Batali will do a reading to local children of Green Eggs and Ham, followed by a ribbon-cutting to dedicate the new MBF/Books for Kids library at ABCD, and a personal greeting from Mario to educators and families attending a special First Book Book Fair. 

“This initiative in Boston represents the first time the Mario Batali Foundation has brought together three of its grantees and two Head Start centers to make a real impact in a single city by having good books and good food practices accessible where they’re needed most,” said Mario Batali. “We are honored to work with these organizations that do important work every day.” 

Books for Kids
Two brand-new libraries will be opened by the Foundation and Books for Kids, one at the ABCD Geneva Avenue Head Start and another at Horizons for Homeless Children. Each library will be beautifully designed and filled with an age-appropriate collection based on the core group of standard titles recommended by the Department of Education and early childhood literacy experts, as well as titles specially selected by Mario Batali for healthy eating and living.  The books are carefully selected to reflect the backgrounds and life experiences of the children in the library’s community. Each library will also have a Mario Batali Foundation-funded Library Specialist and literacy program, as well as a lending program to allow books to be taken home by the children and their families.

The opening of these two new Books for Kids libraries marks the 15th and 16th Books for Kids libraries funded by the Mario Batali Foundation around the country.

First Book
First Book will distribute more than 20,000 brand-new books and resources to Boston educators serving children in need through the generosity of the Mario Batali Foundation. Following the library opening, hundreds of teachers and educators serving kids in need will be able to browse 10,000 age-appropriate, culturally relevant books, and take dozens of books home or to their programs at no cost. In addition, 2,000 books will be given to families served by the two MBF/Books for Kids Boston libraries, so children can continue reading at home. Finally, First Book will be shipping another 10,000 free books to educators throughout Boston who were not able to attend the event. 

FoodCorps
Expanding on its community and school support in Boston and Massachusetts for the past five years, FoodCorps is creating a future in which every school is a healthy school, and every child is well nourished and ready to learn. This new matching grant from the Mario Batali Foundation will enable FoodCorps to expand its Greater Boston area program and scale up service corps members in the area, reaching more than 7,500 children in Boston and Massachusetts with the nourishment and hands-on food education that will help to ensure a lifetime of healthy eating. The FoodCorps curriculum includes hands-on lessons in gardening, cooking, and tasting healthy food; cafeteria improvements that steer students toward the healthiest options and emphasize local sourcing; and an overall culture of health that gets staff, students, and families on board to transform the entire school community in meaningful, lasting ways.

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About the Mario Batali Foundation

The Mario Batali Foundation was established to ensure that children are well read, well fed and well cared for, encouraging them to dream big while providing them with the necessary tools to become an active force for change in today’s world. In addition to its grants for literacy and nutrition programs, the Foundation provides grants for rare pediatric disease research. To learn more, visit www.mariobatalifoundation.org

About Books For Kids

The mission of Books for Kids is to promote literacy among all children with a special emphasis on low-income and at-risk preschool-aged children. Books for Kids creates libraries, donates books, and implements literacy programs to develop the critical early foundation and skills which young children need to be successful in life. To learn more, please visit www.booksforkids.org

About First Book

First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise founded in 1992 that has distributed more than 160 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada, which, with more than 300,000 members, is the largest and fastest growing network of educators exclusively serving kids in need. By making new, high-quality books and educational resources available on an ongoing basis, First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education. Eligible educators, librarians, program leaders, and others serving children in need can sign up at firstbook.org/register. For more information, please visit www.firstbook.org.

About FoodCorps

FoodCorps connects kids to healthy food in school. Its team of AmeriCorps leaders serve in high-need schools to make sure students learn what healthy food is, fall in love with it, and eat it every day. Its corps members focus their service on teaming up with educators to lead hands-on lessons in gardening, cooking and tasting healthy food; partnering with farmers and food service workers to create nutritious and delicious school meals; and collaborating with communities to inspire a long-term culture of health. Building on this foundation of direct impact, FoodCorps pursues systemic strategies that will benefit all of our nation’s 100,000 schools. To learn more visit www.foodcorps.org.

About ABCD

The Massachusetts-based non-profit human services organization provides low-income residents in the Boston and Mystic Valley areas with the tools, support, and resources they need to transition from poverty to stability and from stability to success. Benefiting “people all across Boston,” ABCD has 14 Neighborhood Service sites, 31 Head Start Centers and several other affiliated program sites to serve community needs. For more information, please visit https://bostonabcd.org.

About Horizons for Homeless Children

Horizons for Homeless Children is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of young homeless children and their families. Horizons provides high quality early education, opportunities for play, and comprehensive family support services. Today, Horizons serves more than 2,000 young homeless children each week in Massachusetts through three early education centers and more than 120 shelter-based Playspaces. For more information about Horizons for Homeless Children, please visit: www.horizonschildren.org.

Media Contact:
Pamela Lewy
Communications Director
Mario Batali Foundation
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
646-619-8385

First Book Dramatically Expands Access to Free Books and Educational Resources for Children in Need, Citing Rapid Growth in Demand

First Book National Book Bank launches new platform granting full-time access to resources as the nonprofit social enterprise reports 40 percent increase in registered network 

WASHINGTON, March 7, 2017 – With school funding in more than 23 states still below pre-recession levels, and with afterschool and youth programs challenged for means to keep children engaged and learning outside of school, the unfulfilled demand for books and educational resources in low-income areas continues to accelerate. More than half (51 percent) of U.S. public school children now come from these under resourced communities, signaling an unprecedented resource gap among the nation’s schools, libraries, and programs.

In response to this need, First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise that addresses educational inequity, has invested in a dramatic expansion of the First Book National Book, which provides eligible educators serving low-income children ages birth to 18 with free books, in bulk quantities, for only the cost of shipping and handling. Originally launched in 1998, the First Book National Book Bank was the first — and remains the only — centralized distribution system for large-scale donations of children’s books from publishers to schools and programs serving kids in need, recovering millions of books from the retail system that would otherwise be destroyed. Today, the First Book National Book Bank distributes more than 10 million books annually.

First Book’s newly redesigned National Book Bank web site at fbbookbank.org has replaced its prior ordering system with an always-on, highly efficient e-commerce site featuring:
  • Continuously available inventory, with no waiting or application, greatly streamlining the order process for time-pressed educators
  • Powerful navigation and search, allowing teachers and program leaders to find the books they need according to age range and genre, as well as popular recommendations from other First Book registered educators
  • Expanded product descriptions to provide greater information about the books on the site
  • Expedited ordering, with detailed shipping and handling information
  • Customer dashboard, displaying order history and status  
“For decades we have fiercely collaborated with our colleagues in the children’s publishing industry to ensure that valuable new books were redirected into the hands of kids who would never have the resources to buy them at retail,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book president and CEO. “This investment in the complete redesign of our First Book National Book Bank platform allows us to accelerate access to meet the staggering need.”

300,000 Educators; 160 Million Books

The demand for books and educational resources has also propelled First Book’s achievement of two major milestones: the distribution of its 160 millionth book since its founding 24 years ago, and exceeding 300,000 educators registered with its network throughout the U.S. – representing a nearly 40 percent increase in the number of educators since the beginning of 2016, and continuing First Book’s position as the largest and fastest growing educational network exclusively serving children in need in North America. First Book now supports 23 percent — nearly one in four —of the estimated 1.3 million formal and informal educators working in the lives of children in need in the U.S.  

“The rapid growth of First Book’s network of educators is evidence of both the intense need among this underserved population, and the importance of fueling learning with the broadest educational resources possible through our nonprofit social enterprise model,” said Zimmer. “With an estimated 32 million children growing up in low-income families we know it’s critical to expand and build new partnerships with publishers, educators, suppliers, corporations and funders, to improve educational equity and transform the lives of millions of children.”

Recent studies by education researcher Susan Neuman identified vast “book deserts” across the United States, where some communities have only a single book to be shared among as many as 830 children. Educators working with underserved children in a wide range of settings are eligible to work with First Book, from classrooms, summer school and park and rec programs, to health clinics, homeless shelters, faith-based programs, libraries, museums, summer food sites and more. 

In 2016, First Book also launched its redesigned First Book Marketplace, the organization’s award-winning e-commerce site, where educators can access high-quality, new books in customized quantities, along with computers and laptops, learning materials and essential items, including socks, underwear, and non-perishable snacks, all specially curated to address the needs of children from low-income families. Through a built-in feedback loop, as well as polls and surveys, educators drive the resources and tools they need for the children they serve, including First Book’s extensive “Stories for All Project”TM collection of titles in Spanish and those with diverse characters. A social enterprise, First Book aggregates the voice and purchasing power of these educators to create a market-driven solution that is responsive to educator needs, with all resources provided at the lowest possible prices or for free. In addition, First Book recruits third-party funding through individual donors, corporate funders and foundations for schools and programs that have low or no budget for books and other resources.


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About First Book

First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise founded in 1992 that has distributed more than 160 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada, which, with more than 300,000 members, is the largest and fastest growing network of educators exclusively serving kids in need. By making new, high-quality books and educational resources available on an ongoing basis, First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of 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.

Contact:
Melanie Boyer, First Book
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 
(202) 639-0114

First Book Adds “Hidden Figures” to Diverse Titles Available to Educators Serving Kids in Need

Young readers’ edition of story behind real-life heroes now accessible to girls growing up in low-income communities

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2017 –  “Hidden Figures,” the New York Times bestseller and inspiration for the Oscar-nominated film, is now available at an affordable price to First Book’s network of more than 300,000 educators, librarians, program leaders, and others serving children in need through First Book’s award-winning e-commerce site. The book, which follows the true story of African-American female mathematicians at NASA whose calculations helped fuel some of America’s greatest achievements in space, is part of First Book’s “Stories for All ProjectTM”, a market-driven initiative that features thousands of diverse books featuring different cultures, ethnicities, languages, family structures, abilities and experiences.

“‘Hidden Figures’ tells an important story – but telling that story isn’t enough; we need to make these stories available to children growing up in low-income communities and inspire a generation of girls to explore STEM and all kinds of learning,” said Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book. “Including an affordable edition of ‘Hidden Figures’—an incredible story of social injustice, stunning genius and astonishing resilience—for educators serving children in need is another step toward creating a marketplace of books that represents the whole of who we are, and who we can become, without exception.”

Educators, librarians, program leaders, and others serving children in need can access “Hidden Figures,” and thousands of affordable and free brand-new, high-quality books, educational resources and basic needs items through the First Book Marketplace. By working collaboratively with major children’s book publishers, First Book is able to make popular titles like “Hidden Figures” available to educators simultaneously with general market releases.

According to the Children’s Cooperative Book Center, out of more than 3,000 children’s books reviewed in 2016 only eight percent featured African-American characters; seven percent featured Asian-Pacific Americans, less than five percent featured Latin or Hispanic characters and just one percent featured Native Americans. Yet, in a First Book survey of educators serving children from low income communities, where minorities are disproportionately represented, 90 percent of respondents indicated that children in their programs would be more enthusiastic readers if they had access to books with characters, stories and images that reflect their lives and their neighborhoods. “Hidden Figures” exemplifies education researcher Rudine Sims Bishop’s principle of “windows and mirrors,” both showing children mirrors of characters who look like them, and windows onto other experiences, such as succeeding in STEM professions less populated by women and minorities.

Book ownership and a print-rich environment are leading indicators of a child’s educational success, but for the 31 million children growing up in low-income families in the U.S. alone, books are scarce. A recent study by education researcher Susan Neuman identified vast “book deserts” across the United States, where some communities have only a single book to be shared among as many as 830 children. First Book works to ensure educational equity by serving the educators working with children in need across a wide range of settings, from classrooms, summer school and park and rec programs, to health clinics, homeless shelters, faith-based programs, libraries, museums, summer food sites and more.  
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About First Book 

First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise founded in 1992 that has distributed more than 160 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada, which, with more than 300,000 members, is the largest and fastest growing network of educators exclusively serving kids in need. By making new, high-quality books and educational resources available on an ongoing basis, First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of 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.

Penguin Random House to Publish Forthcoming Books by Former U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama

NEW YORK CITY, February 28, 2017— Penguin Random House is pleased to announce that it will publish forthcoming books by former President of the United States Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama. Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle announced today that the company has acquired world publication rights for two books, to be written by President and Mrs. Obama respectively. Terms of the agreement, in which the authors were represented by Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell of Williams & Connolly, were not disclosed.

In support of the mission of The Obama Foundation and Penguin Random House’s own commitment to social responsibility, the company will donate one million books in the Obama family’s name to First Book, a longstanding Penguin Random House non-profit partner and the Washington, DC-based partner for the 2016 White House digital education initiative, Open eBooks. First Book is dedicated to promoting equal access to education by providing new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need in the United States and Canada. Consistent with their past practice, the Obamas also plan to donate a significant portion of their author proceeds to charity, including the Obama Foundation.

Markus Dohle said: ”We are absolutely thrilled to continue our publishing partnership with President and Mrs. Obama. With their words and their leadership, they changed the world, and every day, with the books we publish at Penguin Random House, we strive to do the same. Now, we are very much looking forward to working together with President and Mrs. Obama to make each of their books global publishing events of unprecedented scope and significance.”

2016 December Lightbox