JFS Perspectives

Thursday, August 17, 2017

From the CEO: On Literacy and Learning

From the CEO: On Literacy and Learning

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” Margaret Fuller

Dear Friends,

As you will read in this issue of Family Matters, JFS is now in the book-distribution business. Thanks to the vision of JFS volunteer and board member John Keith, Jewish Family Service is promoting literacy by distributing books to low-income children through the Lunchbox Express free lunch program.

This supplement to Lunchbox Express has virtually no cost, but it has the potential to transform the lives of hundreds of vulnerable children in our community. We know that children who read are more likely to succeed. According to the U.S. Department of Education, children who have not developed some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are three or four times more likely to drop out later.

Low-income children are especially at risk of illiteracy because they tend not to have access to books. In middle-income neighborhoods, the ratio of books per child is 13 to 1. In low-income neighborhoods, the ratio is 1 book for every 300 kids. It’s a stunning reality.

JFS started offering a limited supply of books to via Lunchbox Express three years ago, as books were available. John noticed that the children responded as much to the books as the meals. They were hungry to read and relished the opportunity to take books to own and read at home.

John took the lead and sourced a steady supply of donated books so they could be offered to kids daily on every Lunchbox Express route. Our volunteer department built a team of knowledgeable and committed volunteers to acquire, stock, process, and categorize thousands of children’s books to ensure they are high-quality, suitable, and age-appropriate for the children we serve.

JFS is now distributing books to children most at risk of illiteracy. This simple idea is making a big difference in the lives of so many kids by giving them the tools they need to succeed in school—and in life.

We applaud John Keith for his vision, as well as his team of dedicated volunteers, including Karen Kelly, Marlin Barad, Susie Cook, and Janet Bronitsky. You are opening worlds of opportunity for children in our community.

Shepard NevelShepard Nevel
President and CEO