Turn the Page KC and the Local Investment Commission (LINC) have been selected from among over 100 applicants to receive an award of $73,000 for new books that will expand Turn the Page KC’s mission to mobilize the community to achieve reading proficiency at grade level or above for all third graders in Kansas City, Missouri.
First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise focused on equal access to quality education for children in need, awarded the funds as part of its OMG Books Awards: Offering More Great Books to Spark Innovation, a program that will give more than $4.7 million in funding to distribute 1.5 million brand new books and eBooks to children living in low-income communities in 33 U.S. states and territories.
Turn the Page KC and LINC will use the award to increase the diversity of school libraries in Hickman Mills and Kansas City Public Schools districts, while also helping families build home libraries in neighborhoods classified as book deserts.
“With this award, we will be able to provide more than 20,000 high-quality, inclusive books to the children we serve,” said Mike English, Executive Director of Turn the Page KC. “Students want to see themselves in the pages of the books they read. Access to engaging, inclusive books increases student interest in reading, and helps ensure that kids can read proficiently by third grade.”
Awardees are using the funding to select books and eBooks from the First Book Marketplace (www.fbmarketplace.com), First Book’s award-winning eCommerce platform, that best meet the needs of the children they serve. Missouri was among 9 states in the first cycle of awards. Additional awards will be granted throughout 2019. First Book estimates the total value of the books distributed will be more than $12 million.
“We know that access to books and eBooks makes a significant difference in a child’s future success,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book president, CEO, and cofounder. “Children do not thrive in deeply under-resourced environments and too many of the schools and programs have far too little. This deprivation has long-term consequences for the children, their families, their communities and our nation. This could not be more urgent. With the OMG Books Awards, First Book, Turn the Page KC, and LINC are investing not only in the future of the kids we’re reaching, but in the overall wellbeing of our nation.”
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).
Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up to receive resources from First Book outside of OMG Books Awards at firstbook.org/join. For more information, please visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.
About Turn the Page KC
Turn the Page KC mobilizes the community to achieve reading proficiency at grade level or above for all third graders in Kansas City, Missouri, by focusing on four factors that most contribute to reading success: school readiness, school attendance, summer learning, and access to books. www.turnthepagekc.org
The Local Investment Commission (LINC)℠ is a citizen-driven community collaborative involving efforts by the state of Missouri to work with neighborhood leaders, citizens, business, civic and labor leaders to improve the lives of children and families in the Kansas City region. www.kclinc.org
About First Book
First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. Through sustainable, market-driven models, 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 across the U.S. and Canada.
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 Member Survey, 2016