May 13, 2019 – Black Hills Reads has been selected among over 100 applications to receive an award of $7,250 for new books and eBooks that will expand the mission and partnerships within the initiative. First Book, the non-profit social enterprise focused on equal access to quality education for children in need, awarded the funds as part of its OMG Books Awards: Offering More Great Books to Spark Innovation, a program that will give more than $4.7 million in funding to distribute 1.5 million brand new books and eBooks to children living in low-income communities in 33 U.S. states and territories.
Black Hills Reads will use the award to connect more partner agencies together to make a greater impact in the area of early literacy skills for the youth in the Black Hills. This grant will allow Black Hills Reads to get more partners and educators connected to First Book and all of the resources they offer. This is one more tool to add to the collective ‘tool belt’ of the educators and agencies trying to make a difference in young children’s lives.
“It truly takes a village to help children reach their goal of 3rd grade reading proficiency. With this award, we will be able to bring new, high-quality, contemporary books to the kids we serve,” said Kayla Klein.
Awardees are using the funding to select books and eBooks from the First Book Marketplace (www.fbmarketplace.com), First Book’s award-winning eCommerce platform that best meet the needs of the children they serve. South Dakota was among 9 states in the first cycle of awards. Additional awards will be granted throughout 2019. First Book estimates the total value of the books distributed will be more than $12 million.
“We know that access to books and eBooks makes a significant difference in a child’s future success,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book president, CEO, and cofounder. “Children do not thrive in deeply under-resourced environments and too many of the schools and programs have far too little. This deprivation has long-term consequences for the children, their families, their communities and our nation. This could not be more urgent. With the OMG Books Awards, First Book and Black Hills Reads are investing not only in the future of the kids we’re reaching, but in the overall wellbeing of our nation.”
Access to adequate resources is one of the greatest contributors to educational success in the United States. Research indicates that just the presence of books in the home improves educational outcomes, yet low-income communities across the U.S. are plagued by vast ‘book deserts’—with one community having only a single book per as many as 830 children. Additionally, members of the First Book Network, who exclusively serve kids in need, have indicated that without First Book, the children they serve would have access to very few books, if any at all. (References below).
Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up to receive resources from First Book outside of OMG Books Awards at firstbook.org/join. For more information, please visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.
About Black Hills Reads
Black Hills Reads is an initiative under the United Way of the Black Hills umbrella. Black Hills Reads focuses on helping children reach reading proficiency by 3rd grade. They are the backbone organization that is bringing together partners across sectors to create a greater collective impact on early childhood reading proficiency and make sustainable results.
Black Hills Reads, officially expanded across the Black Hills region in January, 2018, and now works with over 25 individual schools across the area as well as more than 100 non-profit and for-profit partners.
About First Book
First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. Through sustainable, market-driven models, First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by making new, high-quality books and educational resources, including sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more, affordable to its member network of more than 400,000 registered educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more learning materials than any other program of its kind: 175 million books and educational resources, worth more than $1.5 billion, reaching more than 5 million children annually across the U.S. and Canada.
First Book also expands the breadth and depth of the education field through a family of social enterprises, including First Book Research & Insights, its proprietary research initiative, and the First Book Accelerator, which brings best-in-class research to the classroom via relevant, usable educator resources.
 First Book Member Survey, 2016