WASHINGTON, June 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- First Book, a nonprofit dedicated to educational equity as a path out of poverty, today announced the launch of Black Kids Matter, an initiative designed to amplify, celebrate and empower the voices of Black children. As part of the initiative, First Book will distribute 17,000 culturally relevant books that showcase diverse characters, voices and life experiences to children of color in underserved communities, thanks to support from presenting sponsor National Grid and partner TD Bank. The campaign is being introduced in recognition of Juneteenth (June 19th), a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States.
"This celebration of the voices of Black and Brown children comes at a critical time in our country when we all need to listen and encourage children of color to find and share their voice," said Kyle Zimmer, President, CEO and Co-founder of First Book. "At the same time, research confirms that children who see themselves in the books they read are more likely to embrace reading, and it is also essential for all children to see their peers represented in the books they read and to hear their stories – to encourage understanding, empathy and inclusivity. We are so grateful to our presenting sponsor National Grid and our partner TD Bank for their support in launching this campaign."
Black Kids Matter kicked off in seven states across the Eastern seaboard last month, where educators encouraged their students to express the many ways that Black and Brown kids are special. Those educators submitted a wonderful array of videos, drawings, writing and poetry expressing the voices of the kids of color they serve. A selection of that content can be viewed here.
"National Grid actively looks for ways we can reach out and empower the communities we serve. We recognize that working toward education equity will benefit our communities for decades to come," said Badar Khan, US President of National Grid. "Projects like these provide access to more educational opportunities, which can ultimately lead to better jobs. We are excited to partner with First Book to provide children with books, allowing them to read at home."
As part of the campaign, both National Grid, and TD Bank – through the TD Ready Commitment – are enabling First Book to make books available through schools and programs serving children in low-income and historically excluded communities. The educators, members of the First Book Network specifically serving children in need, will select book titles best suited for their students or program participants in pre-K through grade 12 – all from First Book's Stories for All Project™. The books are being distributed throughout June, just in time for children to have on hand for summer reading.
"When you look at the research, many 'book deserts' in the U.S. today are concentrated in low-income communities. On top of that, lack of access is one of the greatest contributors to educational inequity in the United States," said Shelley Sylva, Head of U.S Social Impact at TD Bank. "Through the TD Ready Commitment, we're focused on supporting organizations aimed at closing those gaps, which is why we are so excited to be supporting First Book and the Black Kids Matter initiative to get more books into the homes of children across the country."
To learn more about the Black Kids Matter Initiative, click here.
About First Book Founded in Washington, D.C., in 1992 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit social enterprise, First Book is a leader in the educational equity field. Over its 29-year history, First Book has distributed more than 200 million books and educational resources, with a retail value of more than $2 billion. First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by providing its Network of more than 500,000 registered teachers, librarians, after school program leaders, and others serving children in need with millions of free and affordable new, high-quality books, educational resources, and basic needs items through the award-winning First Book Marketplace nonprofit eCommerce site. The First Book Network comprises the largest and fastest-growing community of formal and informal educators serving children in need.
First Book also expands the breadth and depth of the education field through a family of social enterprises, including First Book Research & Insights, its proprietary research initiative, and the First Book Accelerator, which brings best-in-class research-based strategies to the classroom via relevant, usable educator resources. First Book Impact Funds target support to areas of need, such as rural communities or increasing diversity in children's books.
About National Grid National Grid (NYSE: NGG) is an electricity, natural gas, and clean energy delivery company serving more than 20 million people through our networks in New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. National Grid is transforming our electricity and natural gas networks with smarter, cleaner, and more resilient energy solutions to meet the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
National Grid is dedicated to acting responsibly. Last October, they released their Responsible Business Charter, which lays out the company's commitments to the environment, employees, customers, and communities. Some of the ways they serve their communities are by partnering with charity organizations, focusing on lower income communities, and upskilling young people to help grow the future workforce.
About TD Ready Commitment TD has a long-standing commitment to enriching the lives of its customers, colleagues and communities. As part of its corporate citizenship platform, the TD Ready Commitment, TD is targeting CDN $1 billion (U.S. $775 million) in total by 2030 towards community giving in four areas critical to opening doors for a more inclusive and sustainable tomorrow – Financial Security, Vibrant Planet, Connected Communities and Better Health. Through the TD Ready Commitment, TD aspires to link its business, philanthropy and human capital to help people feel more confident - not just about their finances, but also in their ability to achieve their personal goals in a changing world. For further information, visit td.com/tdreadycommitment.