First Book Launches Final Funding Phase of $4.7 Million OMG Books Awards

Nonprofit social enterprise to award remaining $1.2 million in funding across 12 states for new books and eBooks for kids in need

WASHINGTON (July 8, 2019)First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise focused on equal access to quality education for children in need, today announced the launch of the third and final phase of OMG Books Awards: Offering More Great Books to Spark Innovation, an initiative that will give more than $4.7 million in funding to schools and programs to distribute an estimated 1.5 million brand new books and eBooks to children living in low-income communities in 33 states and territories. The total value of books to be distributed through the OMG Books Awards program is estimated at more than $12 million.

First Book was selected by the respective 33 Attorneys General to distribute the funds in the eligible states and territories, which can only be used to purchase books and eBooks in those states, implementing a court settlement unrelated to First Book.

The first two phases awarded funds to more than 200 organizations across 21 states to implement projects ranging from “book boxes” in police cars, lending libraries in city parks, and curated collections of contemporary, culturally relevant bilingual and Native American books. First Book is now accepting applications for the current and final phase, which includes the remaining 12 states: Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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[1], 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.[2] 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.[3]

“The profound depth of need in each and every proposal was truly heartbreaking, but the innovation and dedication displayed in each application gave us an equally profound sense of hope,” said Kyle Zimmer, president, CEO, and cofounder of First Book. “A child’s potential is compromised by the absence of resources, but there are educators working to put good books in the right places. Inspiring a life-long love of reading is essential, and that means creating regular access to books that kids want to read. That’s what First Book does, and what the OMG Books Awards program aims to amplify—we spark the innovation that breaks down barriers to education.”

Through a competitive RFP process, the OMG Books Awards are awarding funding for books and eBooks to the most innovative proposals from eligible applicants. Awardees will use the funding to purchase books and eBooks through the First Book Marketplace (www.fbmarketplace.com), First Book’s award-winning eCommerce platform, that will best meet the needs of the children they serve.

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.

RFP response due dates are divided into three cycles with specified states and territories in each cycle. Cycles 1 and 2 are closed; Cycle 3 includes Arkansas, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Detailed information is included in the RFP, which can be downloaded in English and Spanish at https://firstbook.org/take-action/omgbooksinfo/. Please direct questions 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

Founded in Washington, D.C., in 1992 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit social enterprise, First Book is a leader in the educational equity field. Over its 27-year history, First Book has distributed more than 185 million books and educational resources, with a value of more than $1.5 billion. 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 providing its network of more than 425,000 registered teachers, librarians, after school program leaders, and others serving children in need with millions of free and affordable new, high-quality books, educational resources, and basic needs items through the award-winning First Book Marketplace nonprofit eCommerce site. The First Book Network comprises the largest and fastest-growing community of formal and informal educators serving children in need.

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. First Book Impact Funds target support to areas of particular need, such as rural communities or increasing diversity in children’s books.

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.

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

[1] Sikora, et al. DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2018.10.003

[2] Susan B. Neuman, Naomi Moland. “Book Deserts.” Urban Education, 2016. DOI: 10.1177/0042085916654525

[3] First Book Member Survey, 2016