First Book and the New York Life Foundation Partner to Bring Grief Books, Resources to Educators

First Book receives nearly half a million dollars to support the issue of grief in school communities through the power of reading

WASHINGTON (February 27, 2019) — The New York Life Foundation today announced a new two-year partnership with First Book, a leading education nonprofit whose mission is to bring high-quality resources to educators serving children in need. The project will seek to increase access to bereavement books and resources among educators in underserved communities.

This two-year partnership will pair the New York Life Foundation’s longstanding work in the childhood bereavement field with First Book’s extensive network and experience with educators serving underserved communities over the past 25 years.

“Educators are increasingly called upon to support students not just academically, but socially and emotionally, particularly when they have experienced grief or trauma,” said Maria Collins, vice president, New York Life Foundation. “Through this partnership, educators will have access to books and resources to better support, elevate and acknowledge grief in schools. This initiative leverages the power of reading and brings needed attention to a public issue that will impact one in 15 children before the age of 18.”

In a 2012 survey conducted by the American Federation of Teachers and the New York Life Foundation, 92 percent of educators stated that grief was a serious problem that deserves more attention. Additionally, more than 90 percent of First Book member educators responding to a survey in 2016 indicated they lacked age-appropriate, relevant books and resources to address issues affecting their students, including childhood bereavement.

“When children are in trauma, their teachers are often the first to recognize it,” said Kyle Zimmer, president, CEO, and co-founder of First Book. “The realities of living in low-income neighborhoods expose children to trauma and loss that no one – especially kids – should have to face.

Our educators are called upon to support students who are struggling with loss– all this in addition to furthering academic achievement. This is a heavy lift.  Together with the New York Life Foundation, we will give our educators critical new tools to help children deal with grief and loss, while also creating opportunities to further empathy, understanding, and healing through one-on-one and classroom discussion.”

Through the partnership, the New York Life Foundation and First Book will:

  • Expand content offerings on the First Book Marketplace – the organization’s award-winning nonprofit eCommerce site – with new grief/bereavement titles and resources;
  • Update the Grief, Loss, and Healing section on the First Book Marketplace, powered by the New York Life Foundation;
  • Provide funding for educators to select the books and resources from the First Book Marketplace that best meet their students’ needs. These funds will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for educators serving children in need in the First Book Network, as well as those working in the Grief-Sensitive Schools Initiative (GSSI), part of New York Life’s nationwide effort to better equip educators and other school personnel to care for grieving students;
  • Create original age-appropriate conversation guides for educators and program leaders;
  • Develop and provide training on how to use this suite of new materials and resources for GSSI ambassadors and the First Book Network; and
  • Provide free resources to school communities that experience a traumatic event.


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 For more information, please visit or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.

About the New York Life Foundation

Inspired by New York Life’s tradition of service and humanity, the New York Life Foundation has, since its founding in 1979, provided nearly 280 million in charitable contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations. The Foundation supports programs that benefit young people, particularly in the areas of educational enhancement and childhood bereavement. New York Life and its foundation have worked with the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement (NCSCB) to extend support to grieving students, their families, and school communities for nearly a decade – including development of the Coalition to Support Grieving Students in 2015. The Foundation also encourages and facilitates the community involvement of employees and agents of New York Life through its Volunteers for Good and Grief-Sensitive Schools programs. To learn more, visit

Media Contacts:

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Lacey Siegel
New York Life

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