Reading Disney books provided by First Book

Mark Cuban Pledges $35,000 To Global Reading Challenge For First Book and Libraries and Their Communities

WASHINGTON (Nov. 15, 2017) — Billionaire investor and Shark Tank personality Mark Cuban has announced his sponsorship of the inaugural Beanstack Winter Reading Challenge in support of local libraries. Cuban has challenged close to 100 libraries all over the country and South Korea, to meet a collective goal of reading at least 1.3 million minutes and 55,000 books during the month of January. If achieved, Cuban pledges to donate $25,000 to First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, learning materials, and other essentials to children in need. He will also give $10,000 for top-performing libraries to use for their community programs or donate to nonprofit organizations in their area.

Participating libraries will use Beanstack, an innovative software that facilitates reading programs for schools and libraries, and makes it easy to track the amount of time and books read. “After doing a storytime for my local library, Dallas Public Library, I became increasingly inspired by the work libraries do for their communities,” says Cuban. “Growing up, my mom used to give me a quarter for every book I read. Through reading programs libraries run with Beanstack, they are providing these kinds of incentives for readers throughout the community. I love the idea that we will encourage readers through a shared, ambitious goal, and that the prize for everyone will be to pay it forward to an awesome organization focused on literacy and access to books.”

Using Cutting Edge Software to Track Reading

The Beanstack software platform, from parent company Zoobean, takes a modern approach to managing reading programs, bringing everything online and making it easy for librarians and readers alike to set up and maintain accounts to track their reading. Cuban became an investor in Zoobean after the founders impressed him with their vision on Shark Tank in 2013. Beanstack currently serves over 600 libraries globally.

“Libraries are the lifeblood of so many communities, and we love having the opportunity to further their work in this way,” says Zoobean co-founder and Chief Client Success Officer, Jordan Lloyd Bookey. Librarians will set up their Winter Reading Challenge programs on Beanstack’s platform, each with its own unique design. Participants will log their time and books read throughout the month of January on their libraries’ individual Beanstack sites.

Prize Money Goes to Support Social Nonprofit First Book

In setting up the Winter Reading Challenge, participating libraries were asked what to do with the prize money. First Book was the nonprofit they selected. 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 and snacks, affordable to its member network of more than 350,000 educators who exclusively serve kids in need.

“Through partners like Metropolitan Library System in Oklahoma City and the Awty International School in Texas, we see that reading incentives that are charitable in nature help to drive participation and engagement,” says Bookey. “The mission of First Book is well-aligned with the work libraries do, so it’s no surprise that our clients voted to give the prize money to that organization!”

Since its founding in 1992, First Book has distributed more than 170 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families.

“I believe that the most powerful force in the world is empathy,” says First Book’s president, co-founder and CEO Kyle Zimmer. “It is truly an honor to be selected by libraries and to have the reward for participants’ reading be to collectively give to First Book – bringing the joy of reading through books and resources to so many more children. What a wonderful way to build empathy and community. First Book is an ardent supporter of libraries and we are thrilled to be part of this program. We will absolutely put that $25,000 to work, serving kids in need.”

Cuban will announce the results of the inaugural Winter Reading Challenge this February.


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Media Contact:

Jordan Lloyd Bookey, Beanstack
(202) 735-1005