How Diapers Break Down Barriers to Education

In 1992, First Book began with a mission to provide brand-new books to children in need. Throughout the years, the mission has stayed constant, but the needs have changed and expanded. Nearly 30 years later First Book continues to build a path out of poverty through educational equity and breaking down barriers beyond books.

Our purpose is as bold as it is urgent: To create systemic change. To ensure equal access to quality education. To empower and equip every educator who serves children in need.

Other barriers to education include basic needs like sensory toys, cold weather clothing, educator resources and in 2020, the need for diapers and wipes became prevalent. The Washington Post cited that 1 in 3 U.S. families could not afford diapers, even before the pandemic.

An Anonymous Donation

In early 2021, First Book launched a diaper pilot responding to this need. Thanks to an anonymous donor, First Book was able to make an initial inventory purchase of much-needed diapers and wipes that were added to the First Book Marketplace. Within a month of launch, diapers became a Marketplace best seller with purchases benefitting educators across America and even a local diaper bank in Virginia.

As of the writing of this blog, the Marketplace supports more than half a million educators, providing brand-new supplies at a reduced cost helping teachers and caregivers serving Title I schools stretch every dollar. First Book continues to address systemic issues within underserved communities through our network as the U.S. Department of Education reports that most educators spend up to $500 a year of their paycheck to support students in their classrooms.

In fact, 61 percent of educators in the Network purchased diapers for children and the families they serve. More than 41% of educators report there are no diaper bank resources available in their community and 27% of those same respondents also report no diaper banks in neighboring communities.

I run a food bank and clothing service with a large church community that serves anyone in need in the area. Diapers have always been a consistent need, but we have noticed an increase in more diaper requests in the last year. We send our thanks for your continued support.

Pat Bennet, Network Member

Leveraging Support

First Book actively and routinely surveys our network to understand the immediate needs for educators and their communities. With their direct feedback, our team can immediately leverage relationships with vendors across the country to help fill supply chains to those in need so learning and education can remain a priority.

With additional support and generosity from our donors, items like diapers and wipes have been available in our Marketplace for nearly 3 months. Through our sophisticated distribution system, First Book continues to efficiently deliver help where it is needed. The First Book educator-centric design, grounded in rapid-cycle feedback, and powered by innovation, provides hope, and promise to children living in poverty and the educators who serve them.

Ready to Help?

The 2021 diaper pilot has highlighted so many wonderful parts of First Book, starting with our Network and Marketplace as well as our partners and donors.

If you’re interested in supporting our mission, find the path that’s right for you.

If you’re an educator, join our network. Register for free to join the largest and fastest-growing network of educators, schools, and programs serving children in need across the United States and Canada. As a member, you can bring titles, resources, and more to your classroom.

If you’re an individual, donate to First Book. We have many ways you can make an impact from a direct donation to our monthly book club.

If you work at a corporation or non-profit, find out how we can partner and work closely together to provide even more resources and brand-new books to kids in need.