Clearly Books for Keeps needs someone to take over our communications “department.” I can’t believe my last update was in June. So much is happening; let’s just jump right in…

1. Clinton Global Initiative!!!

I was honored – beyond honored – to be invited to the Clinton Global Initiative’s summer conference, CGI America. Our participation required a public commitment to do something new, or to significantly expand an existing program.

And what a commitment we made….

“In May of 2012 Books for Keeps will provide 12 high-interest books for summer reading to every elementary school student attending an Athens-Clarke County school where 90% or more of students qualifies for free/reduced meals. Books for Keeps will repeat this program for a minimum of three years at each qualifying school. By May of 2013 Books for Keeps will expand beyond Athens-Clarke County, beginning with a rural Georgia school and an inner-city Atlanta school, to reach children who might otherwise lack books for summer reading.”

Remember how we added schools one at a time last year, as we collected more books? Not this year. We’ll find out in October which schools hit the 90% mark, but based on last year’s data we could be reaching 2,500 or more kids. Let me do the math: that’s 30,000 books, compared to 12,000 this past May. And that doesn’t even include middle and high school books; we’ll continue collecting those too.

To miss this goal would mean (very) public humiliation, not to mention disappointing a former U.S. President. I hope you will help, any way you can.

2. Newsletter

Finally! We’re starting an email newsletter to keep you informed, and to reach new people who haven’t heard about us. You can sign up here. Now we need to find someone to write the newsletter. Baby steps…

3. New Digs

We survived a leaky roof and outlasted a 100+ degree summer with no air conditioning, only to outgrow our sort/storage rooms. Thanks to the generosity of the Knox family we are now sharing warehouse space with their gourmet foods company, Fire and Flavor. They have industrial shelving… pallets… a forklift! Not only does this save us from a near-crisis, it gives us an opportunity to learn some warehousing skills before we need them.

That’s not all! A group of 20 students from University of Georgia’s Masters of Public Administration Program showed up last Saturday and moved everything. They arrived early, had great attitudes, and worked so hard.

4. Campeau Family Foundation Grant

Books for Keeps received a $5,000 grant from the Robert Campeau Family Foundation to establish a book-purchasing fund. Now we can take advantage of deeply-discounted purchase opportunities, such as a recent First Book Clearinghouse sale where we purchased new books for $.35 each.

This is a huge step forward for Books for Keeps because we’ll be able to fill gaps in our inventory as the year progresses. I never, ever want to tell another child “I’m so sorry, we don’t have any shark/basketball/princess books.” We’ll have them this year!

5. Impact Award

Books for Keeps received one of the first-annual Impact Awards from the Clarke County School District. What a joy and an honor. What a powerful motivation to work harder. Without CCSD providing access to the kids, how would we reach them? Think about it: some parents cannot/will not enroll their kids in summer programs, take them to the library, or encourage reading. Books for Keeps is able to reach those children because CCSD allows us into their schools. Everyone from teachers to principals is involved. Thank you, CCSD!

That’s our summer in a nutshell. Please help any way you can. You can start by sharing this post with others to help spread the word. There are books just sitting around, gathering dust in homes everywhere, simply because people haven’t heard of us yet.

30,000 books… maybe more. Oh my. Just remember, Books for Keeps started with a simple thought: “I am someone, I can do something.” So are you, and so can you. Give it some thought.