Books build bright futures

Thursday, February 6, 2020

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Blog LibraryIn 2019, Miller Electric Mfg. Co. applied their manufacturing skills to a good cause. The team built and installed two Little Free Libraries at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley, providing kids easy access to books.

Reading is to a child’s developing brain what sunlight is to a growing plant—crucial for success. Sadly, not all childhoods are filled with shelves of bedtime stories and tales of faraway lands. 

Research published by the U.S. Dept. of Education reveals that 61% of low-income families have no children’s books at home. For families living paycheck to paycheck, books are often left out of their budget. Having books at home is one of the most influential factors in children’s success in school and how far they will pursue their education.

One of United Way Fox Cities’ organizational goals is that children and youth are on track to reach their full potential. We know a strong foundation in literacy early in life plays an integral role in future success.

Here are three examples that show how we partnered with other organizations to get books into hands of young readers this past year:

  • Little Free Libraries: We were excited when Miller Electric Mfg. Co.’s Components team volunteered to complete a special project. The team collaborated with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley to build and install two Little Free Libraries. The small wooden boxes hold free books available to children and teens attending the Appleton Boys & Girls Club. As a part of their volunteer project, Miller employees also committed to stocking the Little Free Libraries with books year-round. Thank you, Miller Electric Mfg. Co., for going the extra mile to support access to books!
If your group is interested in completing a Little Free Library volunteer project, please contact Susan Perri at United Way Fox Cities.
  •  Reach Out and Read Partners – Fox Cities: For more than six years, United Way Fox Cities has championed the implementation of Reach Out and Read (a national nonprofit) in our community. Through Reach Out and Read, children 6 months to 5 years of age receive a free book from their health care professionals at each of 10 well-child visits. At the same appointments, caregivers are educated on the benefits of reading to their children. These simple additions to well-child visits foster nurturing, language-rich family interactions that support brain development and provide a foundation for success.
     
    In 2013, United Way Fox Cities encouraged Ascension NE Wisconsin - St. Elizabeth Hospital to apply for a grant to pilot Reach Out and Read. After a successful pilot, we approached the Appleton Public Library to take the lead in expanding the program regionally, with ongoing support from United Way Fox Cities. Today, 75% of local clinics providing well-child visits participate in the program, with a goal to expand Reach Out and Read to all clinics serving children in the Fox Cities.


  • United Way’s Books for Kids: Thanks to a generous local printing company, an average of 35 organizations across the Fox Cities receive a donation of children’s books each month. In 2019, with the help of more than 200 volunteers, United Way’s Books for Kids distributed books to St. Joseph Food Program for families struggling with food insecurity, Shiocton School District to occupy children on long bus rides, and the Tri-County Dental Clinic to make the trip to the dentist a little more enjoyable. These are just a few examples of how the Books for Kids program touches the lives of Fox Cities children. 

Your investment in United Way Fox Cities makes these and many more literacy efforts possible and ensures that the next generation will explore new ideas, meet up with magical characters, and walk in other people's shoes as they discover the wonderful world of books.