Please provide a brief description of your organization.
More than 20 years ago, a young Fort Collins student was distressed to realize that many of her classmates were unable to purchase books
through the monthly Scholastic Book Club catalogs because their families didn’t have enough money. Years later, when the little girl had become an adult, she returned to Fort Collins and began Book Trust to insure that all children would have the chance to choose and own their own books. In 2001, Book Trust began operating as a pilot program under the fiscal sponsorship of the Serimus Foundation; this pilot project was able to reach 170 students across Fort Collins. By 2006, Book Trust had obtained independent nonprofit status. Our mission is to uniquely deliver choice and ownership of books to low-income children, increasing their literacy skills and fostering life-long learning. Our organization firmly believes that by inspiring a passion for reading one child at a time, we will help increase the number of children with strong literacy skills who are prepared to be successful in school and beyond.
Tell us about your experience working with OMF.
We have been continually impressed with OMF’s professionalism and high quality video product. OMF has produced two phenomenal videos, which have been used both locally and nationally to promote our program. In addition, the support they have shown for our organization through social media and other outreach initiatives has been extremely appreciated. We hope to continue our work with OMF on future endeavors.
What are the issues that you are trying to bring to alarger audience?
Over 31 million children are living in low-income families in America.Research indicates that children living in middle-income communities, on average, own 13 books. Yet, more than half of the children living in low-income communities do not have any books in their homes. In fact, in areas of poverty, the ratio of books to children is one book per every 300 children. In our increasingly information-based world, a child’s ability to read proficiently is closely correlated with the child’s later successes as a student, an employee, and a citizen. Research shows that independent reading (e.g. children opting to read books of their own choosing for pleasure) is closely correlated with reading proficiency. Children from low-income families typically have few books in their homes, under-funded libraries at their schools and limited opportunities to access the public library. Thus, disadvantaged children tend to have limited access to reading materials that they are truly interested in, which is a key predictor of the amount of time a child is likely to spend reading independently. (McKool, Factors That Influence the Decision to Read Out-of-School, July 2010, www.core.ecu.edu). According to Susan B. Neuman, Center for Improvement of Early Reading Achievement, “Access to books and educational material is the single biggest barrier to literacy development in the United States and beyond. If we can solve the problem of access, we will be well on the road to realizing educational parity-a goal which has eluded the country for generations.” Book Trust helps to increase the time children spend reading independently by insuring children from low-income families are able to purchase books of their own choosing each month, ultimately, improving their literacy skills. Our 2012-13 national results showed: 1) Book Trust positively impacted student attitudes about reading; 2) BT students are more likely to read for fun outside of school time than comparison group students; 3) BT positively impacts reading behaviors in the home; and 4) Teachers reported that 9.7% more 2 students progressed to reading at grade level over the course of the year than did comparison group students.
What are some of your primary goals for 2013?
During the 2013-2014 school year, Book Trust will expand its reach to serve 30,000 students in 10 states. More than half-over 17,000-of these students are right here in Colorado. Our goal is to empower students to purchase 700,000 books bringing our cumulative total to 3.2 million books. We will also provide participating teachers with the opportunity to accrue over 10 million bonus points from Scholastic to purchase additional classroom resources and materials for some of the neediest schools in the nation. Through our efforts, our students will develop a passion for reading, as well as improve their attitudes towards reading and improve their reading skills, fostering life-long learners.