The United Way of Denton County recently received a grant of $17,435 from First Book to provide free books to elementary schools and childcare facilities across Denton County.
First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise focused on providing equal education for low income children, according to a news release from UWDC. In partnership with United Ways of Texas, First Book launched the OMG Book Grant to provide free books for low-income children across Texas. With this grant, United Way of Denton County, the Denton County Workforce Success Leadership Team, and the Early Childhood Coalition provided 5,593 books to 42 Title I schools and childcare facilities serving low-income families throughout Denton County. Campuses were able to resupply their library bookshelves or give books out to children encouraging at-risk students to #ReadUNITED.
“As one of the fastest growing counties in the country, our community faces educational challenges related to at-risk students reading at grade level,” said UWDC president and CEO Gary Henderson. “Third graders reading at level has been on the decline which is alarming because this metric predicts high school graduation rates and overall success. With the help of First Book and United Ways of Texas, our collective partners are thrilled to get students excited about reading.”
The grant gifted 25 Title I elementary schools in Denton ISD and Lewisville ISD and five childcare facilities in the area with First Book gift certificates, which allowed educators to login and select books that fit their students best. Gift certificates ranged from $300 to $500 and enabled educators to purchase brand-new books to stock library shelves and put in the hands of children, according to the news release.
“The most exciting thing as a librarian was that I was able to get a large number of Spanish language books, that are hard to come across,” said McNair Elementary librarian Michelle Heidrich. “I was so happy and so were my students.”
In addition, 12 Title I elementary schools in Little Elm ISD, Northwest ISD, and Lake Dallas ISD received a collective 900-plus books via delivery from United Way of Denton County volunteers.
“I was so overwhelmed and excited to get them in the kids’ hands,” said Oak Point Elementary librarian Ashley Strahan. “They are going to love these books!”