The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the largest book and storytelling festival in the country, has announced Access Books as its official charitable partner. The Times is challenging readers and festival-goers to help Access Books raise $100,000 to fund the transformation of at least four school libraries in underserved communities in Los Angeles. The Times’ Reading by 9 fund will match all donations up to $100,000. Access Books will update the libraries to create more comfortable and welcoming environments, as well as paint murals and provide new books and supplies.
Research shows that the best predictor of reading ability is access to books, and when it comes to schools serving communities with high poverty rates, having a quality library for students is especially important.
Access Books is a volunteer-run organization dedicated to transforming school libraries in Los Angeles’ most underserved neighborhoods. Each library served receives thousands of new, quality books, a new coat of paint, and dozens of literacy-themed murals that make the library more inviting. This year, Access Books is excited to celebrate the transformation of our 300th library and 1.7 million books given!
The Los Angeles Times and Access Books will work together on a variety of literacy-themed events throughout the year associated with Reading by 9, including the annual reading guide. The Los Angeles Times and Access Books will focus their partnership on increasing literacy among children by funding the purchase of new books and refurbishing more school libraries in communities that need it most.
Access Books is working in Puerto Rico on April 8th & 9th, 2019! As you know, the need for quality books and libraries is not isolated to California. We are partnering with the San Felipe Humanitarian Alliance, a California based family foundation, and a local organization in Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico Rise Up, to refurbish two school libraries. If funding permits, we will provide books for a local Boys’ and Girls’ Club.
After Hurricane Maria, Escuela Inés María Mendoza became a receptor school, which means it absorbed students from schools unable to open after the hurricane. It is located in a low-income community in the metropolitan area of Puerto Rico, approximately 30 minutes from Old San Juan. It currently has over 1000 students from 18 months old, PK, and K-12. It has the highest number of enrolled children and serves an area with 93% of the families under the poverty level. Before the hurricane they did not have enough books. Now the need is more urgent than ever.
Escuela Francisco Jordán serves grades K-9 and is located in the mountain community of Utuado, which was devastated during Hurricane Maria. This school has become central to the community, absorbing three additional schools and serving as a local hub for a range of resources. The effects of the hurricane are still ever present.
Boys and Girls Club de Arecibo is one of the few places children can go in their under-resourced area. The Club serves children from 7-14 years old, but has few books. We would like to put in shelving, paint a mural, and provide age appropriate books.
Please consider donating to support Puerto Rico's struggling school libraries -- 100% of funds raised will be used to purchase books.
Other Ways to Help
Donate plane tickets for our muralists. United, Jet Blue, and Southwest fly to San Juan. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange.
JOIN US!!! You will see urban Puerto Rico as well as the rain forest mountain area. We will work on Monday, April 8th and Tuesday, April 9th. If we are able, we will also spend a day at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club.
You are responsible for transportation to San Juan. Housing will be arranged with local families for the days we are working at the schools. Puerto Rico Rise Up will also help find affordable lodging if you would like to stay extra days. There are plenty of hotel rooms in San Juan. Please email email@example.com if you are interested in volunteering. All volunteers will sign a liability sheet for the days we are working.
Big thanks to LA librería, an LA-based Spanish language book company that will be donating books to support this cause!
Watch an interview with AB's founder, Rebecca Constantino, as the library at Aldama Elementary in Highland Park is transformed.
"The greatest predictor of literacy for children living in poverty is the quality of their school library"
Watch Access Books volunteers makeover the library at 93rd Street Elementary on People TV's "Shelf Life."
Rebecca Constantino is saving one library at a time
Our humble leader is featured as this week's CNN hero! Watch the video and learn more about what drives Rebecca Constantino to revitalize school libraries across Los Angeles. "Access Books is a team effort," she says. "We also have an amazing army of volunteers. None of this would be possible without their support." Donate to the Access Books "Hero" campaign here.
Join us for a nighttime celebration of Literacy and Science to benefit long-neglected school libraries in the greater Los Angeles area
Friday, December 8th, 6-9 pm
Dinner and pre-program 6-7 pm
Program starts 7pm
Best-selling author of The Martian, Andy Weir was first hired as a programmer for a national laboratory at age fifteen and has been working as a software engineer ever since. He is also a lifelong space nerd and a devoted hobbyist of subjects like relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of manned spaceflight.
Sanden Totten (Master of Ceremonies)
Sanden Totten is a host and co-producer of American Public Media's Brains On!, a podcast for kids and curious adults about the scientific mysteries of the universe. Prior to that, he was KPCC's Science Reporter, where he covered everything from space exploration and medical technology to endangered species and the latest earthquake research.
Michael Lopez-Alegria (Astronaut)
A veteran of four space flights, Lopez-Alegria has logged more than 257 days in space and performed 10 spacewalks totaling 67 hours and 40 minutes of EVA. He retired from the Navy in June 2008, left NASA in March 2012, then joined the Commercial Spaceflight Federation as its president. In October 2014, Lopez-Alegria became an independent consultant; he is based in Washington, D.C.
Dave Zobel (Science Writer)
In addition to his seven-year stint as a writer for public radio’s "The Loh Down on Science," Dave Zobel has penned segments for the University of Texas at Austin’s "StarDate," NPR’s "Day to Day," and the game show "Says You!" A science pundit who’s appeared on G4 and Discovery, Zobel sits on the board of Trash for Teaching, an L.A. not-for-profit that rescues manufacturers’ discards and repurposes them as science and art kits for schools.
Interactive pre-show entertainment from Two Bit Circus, a band of mad scientists, roboticists, visual artists and storytellers. Two Bit Circus weaves multiple disciplines into a breathtaking fusion of science, technology and creativity.
Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems
Bldg S Forum One Space Park Drive
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
$100 per person price includes buffet dinner (non-alcoholic beverages) and a signed copy of Andy Weir's new book, Artemis.
Families are welcome!
The $50,000 award will benefit school libraries
From the G2 Overachivers Grant website:
Dr. Rebecca Constantino is truly an overachiever – a graduate Professor in language acquisition at the University of California, a mother of three, and the founder of Access Books. Access Books is a non-profit organization that refurbishes inner city school libraries and has provided over 2 million books to underserved libraries and children in the Los Angeles area. Given the indisputable linkage between literacy and future success, Rebecca is a dedicated champion for these children’s futures.
Last November, Access Books Bay Area partnered with Girl Scout Troop 61626, who conducted a Girl Scout Take Action project at the Ravenswood Family Health Clinic.
Ravenswood Family Health Clinic serves low-income families in East Palo Alto, and together we established a lending library in the waiting room of the clinic. The girl scouts donated books and raised money for new books for the project, and Access Books Bay Area matched with $500 in funding for new books!
Rebecca Constantino interviewed on 102.7 KIIS FM
Listen to the interview here. From the Community Council’s website:
“Headquartered in Los Angeles, CA, non-profit Access Books refurbishes the libraries of California’s most impoverished elementary school libraries in our cities’ most underserved communities.