If you’re someone who saves all their charitable giving for the end of the year, you’re probably not spending too much time daydreaming about which charities can use your dollars right now. You’re thinking instead about pumpkin spice lattes and the fresh smell of new school supplies. But those thought processes don’t need to be mutually exclusive. In fact, there are a ton of charities who can put that tax-deductible dollar to work while still giving you those back to school feelings. We’ve rounded up ten of our favorite bookish charities, perfect for this September sweet spot.
Girls Write Now
Girls Write Now is an organization dedicated to mentoring underserved young women who are struggling to find their voice as writers. Girls Write Now dedicates itself to young women residing within New York’s five boroughs – 90% of whom are high need and 95% of whom are girls of color. The organization not only pairs professional female writers with these girls in a mentorship capacity, they also lead writing and technology workshops, provide college prep services, and offer professional development opportunities to the community. Donate at www.girlswritenow.org.
826 National provides under-resourced students with the opportunity to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills. Each of 826’s chapters provide after school writing centers for students ages 6 to 18 at eight major cities across the United States. The organization relies on over 5,000 volunteers each year, serving nearly 34,000 under-resourced students each school year. 826 currently operates in San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Boston, New Orleans, and Washington, DC. Donate at www.826national.org.
First Book uses their national reach to provide resources for more than 375,000 educators serving children in need. The organization makes every day classroom essentials affordable for these educators, providing financial assistance for everything from high quality books and educational resources to sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more. With more than 1,000 educators joining their network each week, First Book is the largest and fastest growing organization dedicated exclusively to kids in need. Donate at www.firstbook.org.
Room to Read
While the organizations above focus on children in the United States, Room to Read takes the literacy cause international. Working in collaboration with local communities, Room to Read seeks to change the lives of millions of low income children by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education. They develop literary skills and a habit many of us take for granted: reading among elementary school students. Donate at www.roomtoread.org.
Reading is Fundamental
Reading is Fundamental’s mission is simple: amplify a literate America by inspiring a passion for reading among all children, setting them up with the fundamentals for success. They want all children in the United States – that’s right, all of them – to have not only the ability to read, but also the passion for it. Research shows that 34% of children entering kindergarten lack the basic skills required to learn how to read. But Reading is Fundamental is determined to change that. Donate at www.rif.org.
Up to this point, we’ve been talking about children’s literacy non-profits, but what about charities dedicated to adult literacy? ProLiteracy is committed to making sure those adults are not forgotten. Their philosophy is simple: teach an adult to read; inspire the world to change. ProLiteracy supports over 1,000 national and international organizations that provide adult literacy classes. They advocate for awareness and funding to increase access for adults who want to change their literacy status. And they provide professional development so that adult literacy programs are always receiving the best training and resources available. Donate at www.proliteracy.org.
Books Through Bars
Where other organizations are operating on a national or international scale, Books Through Bars keeps things local. This Philadelphia-based organization is committed to providing incarcerated men and women in the state of Pennsylvania with a steady supply of reading material. Each month, Books Through Bars distributes over 2,000 books to 700 incarcerated people in the Pennsylvania and the surrounding states, saving hundreds of books from landfills. Donate – either monetarily or by sending in your secondhand books – at www.booksthroughbars.org.
Another literacy charity we love who’s taking a local approach is Page Ahead in Washington. Page Ahead partners with Washington state elementary schools, early childhood educational centers, and social services agencies to provide education and books to children in need. They also offer professional development to educators, setting them up for success in the classroom. Since its inception in 1992, Page Ahead has distributed over 2.8 million books to more than 850,000 children in need. Donate at www.pageahead.org.
Reach Out and Read
Reach Out and Read is normalizing literacy as a component of pediatric care, giving young children a foundation for success right at their doctor’s office. Reach Out and Read is dedicated to expanding children’s vocabulary in those pivotal first five years of life by encouraging families to read together. Research has shown that children who hear fewer words during early childhood are at a disadvantage when they start kindergarten. By encouraging family habits of reading out loud every day, and providing books to lower income families, Reach Out and Read is devoted to set up every child for success in the classroom. Donate at www.reachoutandread.org.
The Book Truck
Taking the bookmobile to a whole new level, The Book Truck’s mission is to improve teen literacy in underserved neighborhoods in Los Angeles. Each year, The Book Truck give thousands of free books to foster care systems and low-income teenagers throughout Los Angeles. They’re not only teaching literacy skills, they’re also motivating teens to read through teen-directed literacy programming that incorporates the feedback of those they serve every step of the way. Their goal is to break down as many barriers to reading as possible so that every teenager who encounters The Book Truck walks away with the perfect book for them. Donate at www.thebooktruck.org.