|By G. Michael Dobbs|
GREATER SPRINGFIELD – Susan Jaye Kaplan of Link to Libraries is looking for 13 companies, individuals or organizations who want to encourage literacy in a very direct way.
Kaplan told Reminder Publications that Link to Libraries’ program, “Business Book Link,” has 37 participants, but her organization is looking for 13 more by the end of the year to have 50.
The program was started last September and involves each sponsor to make a commitment of donating $1,200 annually for three years to help supplies books to students at a selected school. The contribution would partially underwrite the cost of 300 to 500 books over that period, with the rest of the expense picked up by Link to Libraries.
The program is designed to bolster the effort across the Pioneer Valley to have students reading at grade level by the end of third grade, an initiative supported by the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation, she said.
The Business Book Link is more than just about a donation, Kaplan added. The sponsors “must agree to engage the school and its students,” she said.
The sponsors are brought to their school and given a your and a plaque noting their involvement. The school principal also gives them a wish list.
Kaplan said that some sponsors have participated fulfilling the wish lists by organizing a read aloud program, purchasing a picnic table and teaching a financial literacy course.
The goal, she explained, is to establish a “permanent tie that is bigger than Link to Libraries.”
She added that one of the sponsors told her he would stay with his school as long as they would want him.
“We want that kind of community engagement,” she said.
It’s not just businesses that have signed up for the program so far, but individuals and families as well, Kaplan explained.
“The need is so great,” she explained. Link to Libraries receives requests from schools daily that wish to participate in the program.
She is very interested in recruiting sponsors for schools in Ludlow and Chicopee as so far there are none for schools in those communities. Kaplan said she is particularly interested in Chicopee because of its high number of students that come from homeless families.
This program is one of many Link to Libraries maintains, which include a program aimed at homeless children to “Welcome to Kindergarten,” which supplies a literacy book bag to youngsters on Chicopee, Holyoke and Springfield and well of its efforts to bring in new books to school libraries. This fiscal year, Kaplan said, the nonprofit has donated 78,000 books to schools.
For more information on how to participate in the Business Book Link, call 224-1031 or got to www.linktolibraries.org.
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