First Book will launch a national effort connecting eligible programs/classrooms serving diverse communities to an ongoing supply of First Book resources and books that feature diverse protagonists and culturally-relevant content. It will begin a collaborative disruption of the publishing industry by working with and through the industry to encourage new authors from and for this newly aggregated market segment.
First Book will conduct a needs assessment of thousands of underserved educators to examine the quality and types of educational resources available and needed (e.g., print, special content, eBooks, mobile devices); provide 30,000 new programs/classrooms serving this population with permanent access to First Book resources; create a matching grant initiative resulting in 600,000 content-relevant books to this population (retail value: $4,800,000); distribute 9,000 Special Diversity Collections (50 books each/450,000 books total nationwide, retail value: $3,600,000); and establish a panel of diverse leaders, authors, educators, and others to inform selections, and drive brand new diversity content by encouraging new and established authors to create culturally-relevant books.
First Book has a 21 year history of working with previously disenfranchised programs and schools and has already distributed more than 100 million new books to this population. The online First Book Marketplace (FBMP) was launched in 2008, available only to those serving children in need, and offering highest quality, affordable books at an average 75% below retail, including shipping and handling. The FBMP has grown by 35% annually and will be the platform for the outreach, engagement, selection and distribution processes.
First Book will implement this commitment by leveraging its engagement and logistical skills and expanding cross-sector partnerships convening leading organizations serving Hispanic, African-American, and other populations such as Native American, special needs and LGBT children ages 0-18 around these goals.
Action: Conduct national needs assessment.
Deliverable: Survey thousands of First Book and partner educators to examine the quality and quantity of culturally-relevant educational resources available to this population as well as what books and formats (print resources, eBooks, or mobile devices) are needed (Months 1-3).
Action: Establish and utilize panel of diverse authors, educators, and other experts
Deliverable: Establish panel members (Months 1-3).
Deliverable: Work with panel members to connect First Book to programs serving this population (Months 4-20).
Deliverable: Panel members to serve as national spokespeople for this effort (Months 4-24).
Action: Provide 30,000 new programs/classrooms serving this population with access to ongoing supply of First Book resources.
Deliverable: Establish outreach strategies/timelines with range of partner organizations serving these populations (Months 3-6).
Deliverable: Register 10,000 new programs/classrooms serving significant % of each of the following populations: Hispanic/Latino, African-American, and other populations including Asian-Pacific, Native American, LGBT youth, and children with special needs (Months 6-20).
Action: Create a matching grant initiative resulting in 600,000 content-relevant books to this population (retail value: $4,800,000).
Deliverables: Roll out matching grant incentives in three waves (200,000 books/wave) in coordination with outreach/registration strategies described above. (Wave 1: Months 6-12, Wave 2: Months 12-18, Wave 3: Months 18-24).
Action: Distribute 9,000 Special Diversity Collections (50 books each/450,000 books total) to programs nationwide (retail value: $3,600,000).
Deliverable: Work with publishing partners, nonprofit partners, and panel members to create/curate collections (Months 1-12).
Deliverable: Print and assemble the collections (Months 6-18).
Deliverable: Roll out Special Diversity Collections in three waves (150,000 books/wave) in coordination with outreach/registration strategies described above (Wave 1: Months 9-12, Wave 2: Months 13-19, Wave 3: Months 19-24).
This commitment addresses two issues: 1) low-income (twice the poverty line) US children lack access to books available to their higher income peers; 2) when available, these books do not reflect the cultural diversity of those children.
Children from low income families need access to books. In middle-income U.S. communities children have access to an average of 13 books per child. In some of the poorest communities there is only one book for every 300 children. Research confirms that access to books is absolutely critical to a child's future success. A meta-analysis of 11,000 studies focused on the impact of access found book access to have significant positive educational and behavioral outcomes lasting throughout life. Without access to books, U.S. children from low-income families enter school at a disadvantage and never catch up. These children start pre-school with 25% the vocabulary of their more affluent peers. They fall further behind throughout school (83% of low-income 4th graders read at 'below proficient' levels, and are much more likely to drop out).
Children from low income families need books representing their diversity. A 2012 University of Wisconsin study evaluated 3,600 books for multicultural content and found only 3% featured African-Americans, 2% featured Asian-Pacific Americans, 1.5% Latinos, and 0.6% American Indians. It has been 13 years since a Newbery Medal winning book has featured an African-American protagonist and 48 years since featuring a Hispanic protagonist.
With the dramatic success of the first phase of its CGI commitment, First Book's Latino Outreach Initiative funded by Disney, the organization seeks an additional two million dollars to fund similar work in two critical categories at one million dollars each. The first category in need of funding is outreach to the African-American community culminating in the distribution of around 430,000 culturally relevant books and resources focused on African American youth. The second category in need of funding is outreach to the range of other underrepresented communities including Asian-American, GLBT, Special Needs, and others, culminating in the distribution of around 430,000 uniquely relevant books and resources with a retail value 2.8 million dollars focused on these populations.
Each of these initiatives will include registration of at least 10,000 additional schools and programs serving these populations and partnerships with the national community, research, thought leaders, and leading authors and illustrators focusing on these communities.