First Book Launches $4.7 Million in OMG Books Awards

Nonprofit social enterprise to award more than one million new books and eBooks to children in need in 33 states

WASHINGTON (January 10, 2019) – First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise focused on equal access to quality education for children in need, today announced the launch of OMG Books Awards: Offering More Great Books to Spark Innovation, a program that will unlock more than $4.7 million in funding to distribute 1.5 million brand new books and eBooks to children living in low-income communities. First Book estimates the total value of the books distributed will be more than $12 million.

Through a competitive RFP process, First Book will award funding to the most innovative proposals from eligible applicants in 33 states, implementing a court settlement unrelated to First Book. Awardees will be able to select the books that will help them best meet the needs of the children they serve through the First Book Marketplace (fbmarketplace.com), First Book’s award-winning eCommerce platform, which curates relevant, new, high quality books and eBooks. Through the OMG Books program, First Book aims to expand its reach and multiply its impact by infusing schools, programs, states, and communities with books to spark innovation and strengthen educators’ work with children in need and their families.

“Education consistently ranks among the highest priorities for Americans, yet school funding is still below pre-recession levels in 23 states, and the need for resources is taking on an acute sense of urgency,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book president, CEO, and cofounder. “Educators are grossly under-resourced, especially in low-income communities, and working at maximum effort with what they have. With OMG Books, First Book is not only addressing a recognized national priority, we’re also supporting educators so they can provide the best education possible to kids in need.”

Access to adequate resources is one of the greatest contributors to educational success in the United States. 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. (References below)

Grants will be awarded in 33 states and award amounts will vary by state. Organizations serving children in need in the following 33 U.S. states/territories are eligible to apply: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

RFP response due dates are divided into three cycles with specified states in each cycle. Cycle I proposals are due on February 15, 2019; Cycle 2 and multi-state proposals are due on May 15, 2019; and Cycle 3 proposals are due on August 15, 2019. Detailed information is included in the RFP, which can be downloaded at firstbook.org/take-action/omgbooksinfo. Questions can be directed to OMGbooks@firstbook.org.

First Book is additionally offering opportunities for community, foundation, and corporate partners who wish to accelerate and amplify OMG Books in their communities. Questions can be directed to OMGbooks@firstbook.org.

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About First Book
First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. Through a sustainable, market-driven model, First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by making new, high-quality books and educational resources, including sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more, affordable to its member network of more than 400,000 registered educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more learning materials than any other program of its kind: 175 million books and educational resources, worth more than $1.5 billion, reaching more than 5 million children annually.

First Book also expands the breadth and depth of the education field through a family of social enterprises, including First Book Research & Insights, its proprietary research initiative, and the First Book Accelerator, which brings best-in-class research to the classroom via relevant, usable educator resources.

Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up at firstbook.org/omgbooks. For more information, please visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact:
Melanie Boyer
202-639-0114
mboyer@firstbook.org

  • Sikora, et al. DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2018.10.003
  • Susan B. Neuman, Naomi Moland. “Book Deserts.” Urban Education, 2016. DOI: 10.1177/0042085916654525
  • First Book Member Survey, 2016