In 2013 we donated a little over 2500 new books to schools around the country. This year in 2015 we have been able to donate over 12,000 new books around the country. We purchase our books exclusively form an organization called First Book Marketplace. The books are purchased because I want kids to: (A) have the feeling of receiving something new; not used showing that supporters of our mission are investing in our youth; and (b) to ensure that every book we donate is grade level and content appropriate for the classrooms we provide books too.
Through our partnership with First Book Marketplace our organization is able to purchase new books at discounted prices allowing every dollar to stretch as far as possible. 100% of our donations goes directly towards the purchase and donation of books to elementary schools. On average our organization can purchase 60 books for every $100 dollars donated. While we have been fortunate to receive book grants through our partnership the majority of our purchases are able to be made from donations of supporters and out of pocket. We bring the mindset of “by any means necessary” when providing books to our youth.
The changing cultural climate in our communities and the push for our culture do more, the time couldn’t be any better to express my passion, love, and dedication towards giving back and inspiring others to do the same. I need our youth to know that with every book donated there is an invest being made in them. They now have obligation to do better, and be better, and not let the obstacles they face in their lives be a hindrance to their potential.
To give you some insight into my motivation for starting this organization. As a child my father would make my brothers and I read the newspaper every day. Most of the time he would pretend he was unable to read and make us read the paper to him, helping us sound out words subconsciously training our minds to read and be critical thinkers. Reading was never a hobby of mines until I was in college and a Professor of mine made me read Native Son by Richard Wright. Fast forwarding after college I went on to work in a Title I Middle school for 3 years which really shed light on the struggles of low-income schools compared to those non-low income.
In 2012, while in Kuwait I published my first book Titled “ A Guide to the Simple Life”. The book focused on how to get the most out of life without having to do the most to get it. As a former educator working in middle school I wanted to do something to give back. I took half of my book sale profits and purchased and donated books to teachers I knew throughout North Carolina. The demand became so large I wanted to create something that would be more long-standing and could have a greater impact not only in NC but throughout the US and world. The concept of The Open Book Foundation was simple “One Book, One Child”. I wanted to be able to provide kids with the opportunity to read. In 2013 The Open Book Foundation was launched.
In a class of 20 students, few if any teachers can find even 5 minutes of time in a day to devote to reading with each student.
On average each book purchased by The Open Book Foundation cost as little as $3. This means with our fundraising goal of 30,000 our foundation could purchase and donate books to evey child in 1500 classrooms. While that seems microscopic in terms of a country, it is tremendous in terms of showing our youth we are willing to make an investment in their future.