Rutgers-Newark, First Book, and Expanded Learning Time Make Reading Accessible

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“Reading is such a fundamental foundation for students to be successful in school. Providing books that are interesting to young people helps to build their love of reading,” expressed Sarah Cruz, special assistant for extended learning time at the Office of Expanded Learning Time (ELT) in Newark, New Jersey.

Photo Credit: Lenore Pearson

With those sentiments in mind, ELT eagerly accepted the invitation of the Office of University-Community Partnerships (OUCP) at Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) to serve as the distribution center for its fall 2018 First Book distribution campaign. First Book is a nonprofit organization that endeavors to create equal access to quality education by making books and educational resources affordable to its network of more than 400,000 educators who exclusively serve children in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed globally more than 175 million educational resources and books from various publishing houses. OUCP has been a First Book distribution partner since 2015.

Over a four-day period, OUCP and RU-N students who participate in the America Reads/Count Program and Jumpstart distributed nearly 13,500 books to approximately 25 schools, community-based organizations, and childcare centers on Dec. 5-7 and Dec. 10:

  • 3,000 to Irvington Public Schools
  • 2,700 to the East Orange School District
  • 7,800 to various Newark-based entities

“Our First Book campaign occurs twice a year, usually in December and May. Our goal is to help students start their own private libraries at home,” shared RU-N Assistant Chancellor for University-Community Partnerships Diane Hill. “This year I’m happy to report that we gave more books to older students (middle school, high school, and college) than in prior years.”

“This program provides RU-N an opportunity to give back to the community. RU-N Facilities retrieved the books from Burlington, New Jersey, and delivered them directly to Expanded Learning Time. Fifteen to 20 RU-N students helped organize and categorize the books according to grade level for distribution. This year Rutgers University Police Department distributed 700 books to local schools as part of its outreach initiative,” Hill continued.

As OUCP gears up for its spring campaign, organizations interested in either serving as a distribution center, receiving books, or both, should contact OUCP for consideration at 973-353-1630 and mention First Book.