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First Book: Winner's Statement

Social Capitalists

First Book

First Book is a national nonprofit organization with a single mission: to give children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books. As an innovator in the social sector, First Book is constantly working to integrate the best of private sector thinking into its solutions to end illiteracy. In 2004, First Book will distribute its 30 millionth new book to children in need.

First Book provides a critical resource to children in need. Access to books is essential to reading development. However, 61% of low-income families have no books for children in their homes. Over 80% of childcare centers serving low-income children lack age-appropriate books and other print materials. By providing children with books that they can take home and keep, First Book targets the only variable that correlates significantly with reading scores, the number of books in the home.

First Book supports the hardest to reach children and elevates the quality of the programs that serve them. The children served by First Book are found in existing programs such as youth centers, housing projects, pediatric clinics, migrant worker camps, daycare centers, and other community-based initiatives serving children in need. First Book works to increase the quality of these programs across the country by providing high quality books and educational resources that enhance their overall effectiveness. Support for First Book provides books to children and strengthens thousands of literacy programs in the communities across the country that First Book serves. Collaboration with First Book elevates the quality of education nationwide for the children who need our help the most.

First Book's unique model provides innovative solutions for ending illiteracy. First Book reaches existing preschool and after-school programs through a carefully designed national network of local Advisory Boards. The First Book community-based model brings together a group of diverse leaders to form self-sustaining Advisory Boards. First Book Advisory Boards mobilize communities to supply those already at work with the tools they need to provide new books to the children they serve. Advisory Boards raise funds locally and select the most effective programs in their community as First Book grantees. Grantees use the funds provided by First Book to select and order books from special catalogues co-branded with First Book's publishing partners that offer books at a significant discount. New books chosen by program leaders working directly with children are incorporated into program lessons, and then given to the children to take home and keep. All books distributed by First Book are brand new and are provided at no cost to the child or the program.

First Book's national book bank enhances the impact of the Advisory Board model. First Book created the First Book National Book Bank -- the first-ever centralized system that enables publishers to donate large quantities of new books and educational materials to the nonprofit sector for distribution to children from low-income families. First Book's proprietary technology permits community-based literacy organizations nationwide to select books online and give them to the children they serve. The First Book National Book Bank converts a private sector problem for publishers -- excess books -- into an innovative solution that advances First Book's mission.

First Book fosters social change through national initiatives and partnerships. First Book has collaborated with public and private sector leaders on numerous initiatives and cause-based marketing campaigns, thereby developing a powerful national network of strategic partnerships that are vital to its success. First Book was awarded Connect America's 2003 Partner of the Year Award in recognition of First Book's highly successful partnerships with the nonprofit sector. First Book has won awards for innovative cause-based marketing campaigns, and First Book's corporate partnerships have been highlighted in national publications including Advertising Age, Brandweek, Business Week, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Family Circle, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Publishers Weekly, Redbook, USA Today, USA Weekend, Woman's Day, and Working Woman. First Book successfully uses a range of valuable non-cash assets, including large-scale book distributions through the First Book National Book Bank, celebrity involvement, author and illustrator contributions, merchandising and licensing opportunities, innovative media strategies, and programs for corporate employee involvement, to create cause-based marketing packages that benefit First Book and its partners.

First Book utilizes an efficient model to deliver books to children. More than 98% of funds raised are spent directly in service of our mission. Every $1 donated to First Book results in $11 worth of books distributed to children in need.

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The above information was provided by the profiled organization.