I don’t know about you, but I am forever grateful for the teachers and librarians, the universities and public school systems (I moved around a lot) that enable me to live somewhat comfortably doing what I love and working with the written word. There are many people, however, who find such an opportunity being threatened, and there are more still who can’t even imagine such a lifestyle existing. Let’s fix that, yes? As we progress into the Season of Giving, I invite you to check out and donate heavily to some of my favorite literacy charities:
- EveryLibrary: I have a deep love for this organization, and I can talk forever about why we need them. You may have heard on occasion news of a ballot measure that would significantly (sometimes completely) defund the public libraries in a state or major metropolitan area. Yes, this kind of thing happens, and EveryLibrary is the only national organization working to fight this by building voter support for libraries. This year, they were successful in 14 of 18 campaigns, saving libraries, many of which are already strapped, from losing an additional $31 million. (ProTip: If you can’t afford to donate, vote.)
- Urban Librarians Unite: With a strong focus on New York City, ULU supports libraries, library staff, and librarianship by facilitating dialog between libraries and library workers, encouraging new developments in library science, and advocating for libraries and librarians in urban areas.
- The Leroy C. Merritt Humanitarian Fund: This one directly and personally supports librarians denied employment rights or discriminated against on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, color, creed, religion, age, disability, or their actions promoting intellectual freedoms (freedom of speech, freedom of press, etc).
- First Book: I love donating to this one. They’re a wildly successful nonprofit that provides new books to kids in need. To date, they’ve provided over 120 million. And they’re running a special through the end of the year in which they’ll match your donation three times over.
- 826 National: Here’s one I regularly put on my Christmas list. You can buy me that new thing I don’t need, or you can give your $ to the good folks at 826. With tutoring centers in 7 major cities nationwide, they’ve helped over 32,000 students aged 6-18 to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills. And their flagship location in San Francisco is partially funded by their own volunteer-run pirate store.
- Reading Is Fundamental: I simply can’t make a list like this without mentioning RIF. They’re the largest pro-literacy nonprofit in America with more than 400,000 volunteers in schools, homeless shelters, community centers, etc.
- Literacy for Incarcerated Teens: LIT works to establish libraries in juvenile detention centers throughout New York.
- Reach Out and Read: Celebrating 25 years of service, ROaR works with medical providers to incorporate early literacy into pediatric practice. Their goal is to equip parents with tools and knowledge to ensure that their children are prepared to learn when they start school.
- The African Library Project: Anyone who has been to rural Africa (or even the more populated neighborhoods in South Africa) can tell you that books there are scarce and highly valuable. To date, the ALP has established 1,411 libraries in 11 countries and donated over 1.5 million books.
- Books for the Barrios: BftB is a local (for some of us) nonprofit that works to correct for “brain drain” in nations where talented teachers have left to seek lucrative careers in other nations. Thus far, they have sent over 16 million books overseas, trained teachers in developing countries in modern methods of teaching, and established over 70 “Model-of-Excellence” schools in the Philippines.
- The Literacy Site: This site is absolutely lousy with ads for crap you don’t need, but that’s why I love it so damn much. Those ads allow you to donate to youth literacy, hunger, breast cancer, animal welfare, veterans’ services, autism, Alzheimer’s, diabetes…all without opening your pocketbook. Just click, and you’ve done it. You don’t have to give them your information or fill out any forms, it’s 100% free, and you can do it as many times as you want without limitation. I set it as my homepage.
What are your favorites? Leave a comment with a link to where we can donate.