September is National Literacy Month! Half Price Books has been thrilled to partner with literacy nonprofits throughout the United States for years, and we particularly wanted to highlight these great partners throughout this special month. Be sure to check our social each Tuesday this month for a new post about literacy partners from our different regions. We’ll describe their missions, how COVID-19 has impacted their work and what you can do to help support them. As always, most of our stores will have coin boxes available at the registers for donations, which go directly to our local partners. If you’d prefer to donate straight to the agencies listed below, please just click on the DONATE NOW buttons below and you’ll be directed to their donation pages!
This week, we’re focusing on literacy partners from HPB’s Western Region.
Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County
Empowering adults to achieve literacy and improve their quality of life. Services: LVMC provides free educational services to adults who desire to learn to read, obtain the High School Equivalency diploma by preparing them for the General Educational Development (GED©) exam, or communicate in English. LVMC strives to empower adults in our community to become better candidates for sustainable employment, participate in higher education or job training, and improve their quality of life.
Following guidelines from the Arizona Department of Education, we suspended all face-to-face classes in March and we still do not have a return date. However, all our Instructors reached out and engaged students, and set up classes via web conferencing. In addition, our Instructors are meeting, as needed, one-on-one with students at the Learning Centers (per appointment-only basis) to test, troubleshoot access to the online learning software, or offer any additional support or assistance. While we have been solving many of the problems inherent to distance learning, one of the immediate challenges that we encounter is the ability to serve adults who do not have access to a device (notebook/laptop or tablet) and/or internet. We are seeking community partnerships that can help us meet these needs.
East Bay Children’s Book Project
The East Bay Children’s Book Project helps build literacy by putting books into the hands of children who have little or no access to them. Working through individuals and organizations who help children in need, we have given out more than 2 million free books since opening our doors in May 2005.
We cannot figure out how to provide our services during the pandemic. In February, we opened twice a week with about a dozen active volunteers and about 70 clients getting books. We processed about 3,000 books each week. Half Price Books was our backbone providing us with about 30 cases of books each week. This was subsidized by donations from authors, publishes and the general public.
This all ended in March when we were forced to close down. Our clients are desperate for books as schools are starting up and pediatric clinics are swamped. But, our volunteers are all seniors so they are only going in two at a time to sort books. Donations are way down since our stand locations are all closed. We had a Zoom meeting and came up with a plan where we would pre-pack boxes by age and have people sign up online. We sent it out late Thursday night and had over 300 responses by 7AM the next morning. We are hoping to do another giveaway sometime this month but know we cannot begin to serve the need.
Our mission is to help children become lifelong readers by empowering communities to provide individualized instruction with measurable results.
In an effort to combat the impact that COVID-19 had on student learning and to continue to assist students to achieve literacy goals, Reading Partners launched a new virtual tutoring platform called Reading Partners Connects. Reading Partners Connects is a new online program that will allow Reading Partners to continue to partner with schools and provide volunteer-led one-on-one literacy instruction to students in situations where school campuses are closed to volunteers or where students are in blended learning environments. This program will also expand Reading Partners capabilities to support even more students and families in the future.
Oklahoma City Metro Literacy Coalition
OKCMLC’s mission is to lead a collaboration of literacy providers and supporters to strengthen services and present a united voice for literacy in metropolitan Oklahoma City.
COVID-19 IMPACT: COVID-19 has hindered our resources and ability to provide in-person support to our community.
Guided by the fact that literacy is essential to lifelong success, Page Ahead provides new books and develops reading activities that empower at-risk children.
Having books at home is the greatest predictor of a child’s future academic success. And during summer breaks and school closures, that book access is more important than ever, especially for children in majority low-income communities who do not have internet access. That is why Page Ahead partnered with 73 school sites in Washington State this spring, to ensure kids had books to read during school closures and beyond.
Tacoma Area Literacy Council
Our Mission: To empower lives through adult literacy.
During this time of COVID, while we have had to cancel most of our normal weekly classes, we have continued to provide literacy services via Zoom and WhatsApp for both individuals and small groups of 2 or 3. Our dedicated tutors have adapted the normal class procedures to accommodate remote learning. So we continue to have a positive impact on the community as we pass through this difficult time, and continue to keep everyone safe.
We hope you learned more about the local literacy efforts of the HPB partners in your region and, in doing so, are moved to help in any way you can given the effects of COVID-19 on their operations. As always, our coinbox donations for the month of September will go directly to these organizations so be on the lookout for them at the registers of your local Half Price Books store. Click here for a complete list of HPB literacy partners across all regions.