Monthly Archives: October 2019

But why THAT promise?

For most people, the WHAT is a no-brainer.

Books are easy to get behind. It’s easy to grasp the importance of reading and literacy in building a successful life. Almost everyone who works with us – from staff to donors to volunteers to board members – can point to a way that books (or one single book) transformed their lives.

So, books – and making them easy to get access to – are the easy part for us to sell.

It’s all of the other details that get stickier. The WHY’s.

Why 12 books? (Because the research we founded our program on points to this as the sweet spot for moving literacy skills during summer.)

Why give them away rather than loan them? (Because pride of ownership and removing the fear of losing or damaging a book liberate many children and families to truly embrace this process.)

And then we come to the big question. The question we’ve been driving toward and aligning strategy around for the past five years: 

Why those schools?

Each school we serve is high-need. Every single one. We started out at just a few schools here in Athens that represent the most extreme need: 90 percent or more free/reduced-price lunch. As we grew outside of Athens, we targeted schools in Atlanta and in rural areas with the same characteristics.

And a few years later we set our sights on a big goal: to serve every child attending a Clarke County elementary school.

We’re finally fulfilling that goal this year – reaching every single child in grades K through 5 at all 14 elementary schools in Athens.

We couldn’t be more excited, and we want you to be excited too – here’s WHY.

Our home county has a lot of need. With [...]

Meet board member Joan Prittie!

(part of a monthly series)

How did you first hear or learn about Books for Keeps?

Through Vicky Wilkins [friend of founder, Melaney Smith, and early board member] when I was teaching in the MPA program 8-9 years ago, before Leslie was hired. My class helped the board do some planning and also taught the board some fundraising fundamentals to help them obtain the resources needed to hire an executive director.

How long have you been volunteering or serving with Books for Keeps?

There was this initial work through my class and then a bit of a gap. I have now been on the board of directors for 5 years. I had previously met with Vicky and Melaney before the class project, but board service was the next move.

Why did you choose to serve on the Books for Keeps’ board?

Certainly the experience working with and getting to know Melaney and the early supporters helped me learn the story and get to know the mission. But also a lifelong love of reading instilled by my family played a big part. I want all children to have the gift of that experience [of loving reading] and have access to books.

Have you had an inspiring/memorable interaction with a student since working with Books for Keeps? (This can be a direct interaction or something you observed.) If so, tell us about it.

Yes. I was at a distribution at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School, and I was checking in with a couple of little girls after they had made their selection of books.
They lived in the same federally funded housing community, and they had been very strategic in choosing their books. They chose all different books so that they could trade their books [...]