First Book Unveils New Website to Engage Educators, Partners, and Communities in Expanding Access to Equal Education for Children in Need

First Book reaches new milestone of 350,000 members, remaining the largest, fastest-growing network of educators serving kids in need in the United States and Canada 

WASHINGTON (Nov. 13, 2017) – Today, First Book and First Book Canada unveiled vibrant new websites that underscore the organization’s commitment to engaging educators, partners and communities in expanding equal access to quality education, and showcasing the inspirational voices of its network, which now numbers more than 350,000 formal and informal educators exclusively serving kids in need.

The new websites, at www.firstbook.org and www.firstbookcanada.org, highlight the critical need for educational resources, the compelling and inspiring stories of the educators and kids served, from Iowa to California to Baltimore, and throughout Canada, as well as demonstrations of First Book’s impact.

“Every day, we hear stories from educators on the front line, telling us of the incredible children in their classrooms and programs, their desire to learn – and of the acute and heartbreaking barriers both students and educators are working to overcome, without access to the books, resources and essentials that are so readily available in more affluent communities,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book president, CEO, and co-founder. “Thanks to the generous support of Target, who provided funding for our web site redesign, we are now better able not only to share those stories, but also to better connect educators, partners, funders and communities with the educational resources that are available through First Book. As we celebrate First Book’s 25th anniversary year, this new web site is critical to our ability to scale our efforts.”

The voices and stories featured on the new website underscore the consistent demand for books and educational resources in low-income communities, also demonstrated by First Book’s most recent milestone: the First Book registered membership ­– the largest and fastest-growing network of educators exclusively serving children in need – now exceeds 350,000 members. First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise founded to address educational inequality, now supports more than 25 percent of the estimated 1.3 million educators working in the lives of children in the United States. The rapid growth represents an increase of more than 40 percent in the last 12 months.

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.

“The sustained rapid growth of First Book’s educator membership underscores the intense need for affordable books and educational resources in schools and programs that are already under-resourced,” said Zimmer. “These are communities with an acute need for quality resources to provide a quality education – one that is equal to that of their peers in higher income neighborhoods – and we are fiercely committed to bringing whatever resources are needed. With more than 31 million children growing up in low-income families in the U.S. alone, it’s imperative that we provide all of our children with equal access to a quality education.”

The relaunch of its web sites is part of First Book’s strategic plan to utilize digital platforms to serve both its recipients and the larger social sector. In February 2017, First Book also invested in an expansion of the First Book National Book (www.fbbookbank.org), 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, and in 2016, a redesign of the First Book Marketplace (www.fbmarketplace.org and www.fbmpcanada.org), the organization’s award-winning nonprofit e-commerce sites, 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. In June 2017, First Book unveiled the First Book Needs Index, a dynamic mapping tool developed in partnership with Palantir Technologies, a leading data integration platform, which integrates publicly available poverty statistics with First Book’s proprietary data set of programs and classrooms serving children in need.

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About First Book

First Book transforms the lives of children in need. Through a sustainable, market-driven model, First Book is creating equal access to quality education — making everything from brand-new, high-quality books and educational resources, to sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more – affordable to its member network of more than 350,000 educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more than 170 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families in more than 30 countries. First Book currently reaches an average of 3 million children every year and supports more than one in four 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.

Eligible educators, librarians, providers, 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.

Media Contact:

Melanie Boyer, First Book
mboyer@firstbook.org
(202) 639-0114