First Book and AFT in San Juan post-Hurricane Maria

First Book and AFT Equip Highest-need Schools in Puerto Rico With Basic Needs Closets

Organizations partner to deliver essential resources to support students’ basic needs as part of ongoing disaster relief

WASHINGTON and SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (May 11, 2018) – This week, First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise focused on equal access to quality education, and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) are equipping 14 of the highest-need schools in Puerto Rico with basic needs supplies as part of ongoing disaster relief efforts post-Hurricane Maria. The organizations plan to double the number of the basic needs closets, which are filled with essentials from socks to soap, in Puerto Rico schools by the end of the year.

First Book has already delivered brand new books to Puerto Rico. Additionally, through $25,000 in funds provided by AFT in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which hit the island last September, to provide additional resources to the island nation.

“The impact of Hurricane Maria and related trauma has profoundly impacted students’ ability to concentrate, let alone learn or be engaged in the classroom,” said Kyle Zimmer, president, co-founder, and CEO of First Book. “Ensuring their basic needs are met—that they will be able to access something as simple as a clean t-shirt—goes a long way when their lives have been disrupted to such a devastating degree. We’re so grateful to partner with AFT to support educators and help students know they are cared for and that it is critically important to all of us that they have what they need to be in school and focus on learning.”

First Book has already established 45 basic needs closets across the entire state of Delaware in partnership with the office of Governor John Carney. The closets can be restocked at deeply reduced prices on the First Book Marketplace, First Book’s award-winning eCommerce site that offers books and resources to teachers serving kid in need.

“While many people’s attention has shifted away from Puerto Rico, the AFT and the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico, along with First Book, continue to stand and support the people, students and communities who are still struggling to repair and rebuild their lives even now, more than seven months since Hurricane Maria hit the island,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Whether it is providing Operation Agua water filters to provide access to safe and reliable drinking water, or creating care closets so students have the basic necessities to attend and succeed in schools, we care, fight and show up for the people of Puerto Rico.”

“While Secretary of Education Julia Keleher is trying to close schools, which will inflict more instability on students’ and families’ lives, the Asociación de Maestros de Puerto Rico is working with the AFT and First Book to provide the resources needed in our public schools to provide a high-quality education and support the whole child and community,” said AMPR President Aida Diaz.


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 375,000 educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more than 175 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 5 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 For more information, please visit or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.

About AFT
The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.

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