• Friday, October 07, 2022

Amazon is Investing More Than $1 Million in Literacy Programs in Over 200 Schools Across the United States

on Sep 22, 2022

More than 27,000 students in grades K-8 will receive new books to own beginning with the 2022-23 school year, thanks to a partnership with Reading Is Fundamental, the oldest and largest children's literacy nonprofit in the United States. Amazon is donating over 75,000 books and other materials to help students in 200 cities discover the joy of reading. This collaboration demonstrates Amazon's commitment to inspiring the next generation of lifelong readers by lowering learning barriers.

The collaboration debuted during Amazon's Global Month of Volunteering, an initiative dedicated to making a positive difference in the communities where employees live and work.

For one month, Amazon employees took part in community activities to support causes they care about, such as volunteering at local food banks, assisting job seekers with resume writing, and emphasizing the importance of equitable access to education. 

Amazon also collaborated with organizations across the country to help students, teachers, and families prepare for the school year by filling thousands of backpacks with school supplies, hosting virtual reading sessions, and supporting school book fairs.

The partnership and investment in Reading Are Fundamental come at a time when schools are increasingly challenged to provide students with access to new, high-quality books. Amazon has pledged more than $1 million to support literacy in more than 200 communities across the United States.

Title I eligible schools are those with a high percentage of students from low-income families. According to the Council on Early Childhood and the National Center for Education Statistics, 34% of children entering kindergarten in North America lack the basic skills needed to learn to read, and 65% of fourth graders read below grade level. According to Unite for Literacy research, if a child grows up in a home with more than 100 books, he or she has a 90% chance of graduating from ninth grade, compared to 30% in bookless homes. Many children in underserved communities do not have access to books at their reading level or a variety of interests.

"As we begin the new school year, Amazon's investment in our mission will bring thousands of diverse books and reading resources to over 27,000 children in our country's most underserved communities," said Alicia Levi, president and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental. "Being a part of Amazon's Global Month of Volunteering brings employees from both organizations together in support of children's literacy and future potential."

Cassandra Johnson, a librarian at Canton's Hulsing Elementary School, was overjoyed to learn that Amazon was surprising students with books they could take home and keep forever. These are some children's very first books. Others are adding to a small but valuable collection.

"Getting a RIF book at school every year was one of my favorite childhood memories," Johnson said. "Access to books—and the adventures contained within their pages—should be equitable, but our most marginalized communities are excluded." I'm proud to see Amazon working with partners like Reading Is Fundamental to close the literacy gap. "My students will be eternally grateful."

Rachel Leff, a human resources manager in Phoenix, is one of 5,000 Amazon volunteers across North America who help with tasks such as packing and delivering book donations, filming book preview videos to inspire young readers, and hosting special book fair celebrations at schools in Atlanta, Baltimore, Detroit, and Phoenix.

Leff worked as a youth tutor in high school and volunteered with Reading Is Fundamental during her college years.

"Seeing the children's faces light up when you read them a story or donate a book makes me happy and reinforces why I volunteer," Leff explained. "I am grateful to work for a company that has allowed me to pursue my passion in this field while also assisting others."

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