First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise committed to equal access to high-quality education, in partnership with award-winning author Alane Adams and the Rise Up Foundation, will bring 20,000 new books—valued at approximately $160,000—to hurricane-affected communities in northwest Florida next month. Working with the Florida Education Association and Florida Panhandle school districts, Adams will also conduct schoolwide assemblies at 10 schools that are receiving books. The distribution is a continuation of First Book’s and Adams’ commitment to restoring disaster-affected communities across the United States, including previous distributions in Houston and Northern California.
“We need to ensure educators have everything they need to teach, and kids have everything they need to learn, especially after a disaster,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book president, CEO and co-founder. “Schools are at the heart of every community; they provide a sense of normalcy and comfort. These books are not just for the sake of quality education, but for the sake of restoring communities.”
From Hurricane Katrina to catastrophic wildfires, First Book has distributed more than 5 million books to educators, kids and families affected by disasters, working with first responders, communities, schools and libraries to get the right resources in the right hands at the right time.
“Natural disasters cause not only financial devastation to communities but also take a toll on the emotional well-being of their youngest citizens,” said Alane Adams, Rise Up Foundation founder. “The ability to put new books into the hands of children affected by these disasters is a way to help them return to a sense of normalcy and remind them that there is still magic in the world.”
The Rise Up Foundation distributed more than 35,000 books for school libraries and classrooms; and Adams held student assemblies in 13 schools affected by Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area, and distributed 11,600 books to 12 schools in Lake County, Calif., devastated by the Mendocino Complex Fire.
“We were thrilled to work with the Rise Up Foundation and continue our efforts through the AFT-First Book partnership to support students and educators throughout the Florida Panhandle who are still striving to recover and rebuild after the devastation of Hurricane Michael,” said Fedrick Ingram, Florida Education Association president. “Alane Adams’ generous gift of not only her books, but also her financial support and her time are much appreciated and a reminder to us all that there is still much more to do to help these communities fully recover.”
Books and resources are critical, but scarce, for kids in need. Access to adequate resources is one of the greatest contributors to educational inequality in the United States, but research has identified vast ‘book deserts’ concentrated in low-income communities across the U.S.—with one community having only a single book to be shared among as many as 830 children. Additionally, in a poll of the First Book network, 82 percent of respondents reported that without First Book their children would have very few or no new books.