learn / 2016

Leaders + Readers: Growing School Libraries and Minds One Book At A Time

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Milk + Bookies

Leaders+Readers is addressing educational disparities by flooding books into the Lynwood Unified School District & introducing students to books that will become their gateway into stronger literacy.

Please describe your project proposal.

Leaders+Readers will flood approximately 50,000 titles, as part of its book drive program, to the 12 elementary schools that make up the Lynwood Unified School District to support learning and academic excellence. At each school, we will restock the school library and classroom libraries, as well as hold a “Choose + Keep” Book Fair for students to start their own home libraries giving these students access to the reading materials needed to inspire and engage.

Which of the learn metrics will your proposal impact?​

  • District-wide graduation rates
  • Proficiency in English and Language Arts and Math
  • Early education
  • Student education pipeline

In what areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • East LA
  • South LA
  • County of Los Angeles
  • City of Los Angeles

Describe in greater detail how your proposal will make LA the best place to learn?

In 2014, Milk + Bookies absorbed the book drive program previously operated by BookEnds and transformed it into the full service learning curriculum, Leaders + Readers. At its core, this program is founded on the belief that a sustainably literate community depends on the accessibility of books. Unfortunately, there is a staggering amount of students in Los Angeles that do not have access to the books needed to inspire and engage. We believe by taking on the challenge of delivering books to every elementary school within a single district each year, our program will have a targeted impact and put a spotlight on the importance of supporting reading and literacy within lower income communities.

For the 2016-2017 school year, we will be focusing our efforts on impacting the 12 elementary schools within Lynwood Unified School District, where 40% of their students are English Language Learners and nearly 80% of them live at or below the poverty line. Since literacy is a key factor in determining future life success, without building a solid reading foundation early in their learning career, students are increasingly less likely to succeed in academics and the job market. This barrier to their best and brightest futures is hindered further by poverty, as a majority of the lowest-level readers are from low-income families.

With an average of only 36% of students reading at proficiency or higher in Title I Los Angeles elementary schools, we are failing our students and condemning them to subpar lives. In a job market that is increasingly reliant on higher education, these students stand little chance at earning a livable wage as adults, as those who cannot read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. Worse yet, those who fall behind are likely to never catch up to their proficient peers. In the city of Lynwood, nearly half of the population has less than a high school education. At its core, the schools in Lynwood Unified School District lack the necessary resources to close this income-based inequality. With Leaders + Readers, we are working to change this narrative…we are focused on expanding school, classroom, and home libraries with books that children are genuinely interested in reading and will serve as their “gateway” to a love of reading and stronger literacy.

Our goals grow exponentially each year with our Los Angeles-based program and we hope to accelerate our impact on Title I students year after year and make LA the best place to LEARN.

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

We will measure our programs success based on the following:

1) Number of schools within the Lynwood Unified School District that receive a book delivery 2) Number of books provided in total and by school 3) Number of students impacted 4) Success in engaging school administration and teachers to allow book deliveries and allocating resources to ensure books are incorporated into the school library and classroom libraries. 5) Number of students to participate in Choose + Keep Book Fairs

Teacher survey findings are expected to be consistent with the following historical data: · 95% of teachers report an increase in student reading after receiving donated books · Students with access to a variety of reading material have higher than average test scores

· Narrowing the “achievement gap” leads to lower truancy rates and increases in confidence and academic achievement.

How can the LA2050 community and other stakeholders help your proposal succeed?

  • Money
  • Volunteers
  • Advisors/board members
  • Staff
  • Publicity/awareness
  • Community outreach
  • Network/relationship support