Studies show that the “Summer Slide” accounts for as much as 85% of the reading achievement gap between lower income students and their middle- and upper-income peers. Meanwhile, the positive effects of summer learning programs like My First Library endure for years. SCFM created My First Library to reach more kindergarten students and improve their chances of succeeding in school.
My First Library focuses on schools identified by the SC Department of Education and the SC Education Oversight Committee as high poverty. Low-income students are those eligible for the National School Lunch Program. Students with family incomes below 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Level are entitled to free school lunch, and students with family incomes below 185 percent of the Federal Poverty Level are entitled to reduced-priced lunch. The 2015 Federal Poverty Level for a family of four was $24,250 in annual income. In 2014 there were 289,000 children living in poverty in South Carolina. For children of color, the numbers are even more disparate. Only 13 percent of African-American children are reading proficiently by fourth grade. Low-income students are those eligible for the National School Lunch Program.
Because an overwhelming 92% of kids say they are more likely to finish a book they picked out themselves Book Fairs are held in the late spring so students can choose their own books to take home. Each Kindergartner who will be entering the first grade the next school year is invited to participate and will pick out ten books.
To date, through the support of Bojangles’ and its generous customers along with a grant from the Dollar General Foundation, SCFM has provided 19,680 books to students in thirteen high-need schools in ten districts around the state.
“To build a child’s first library is to give a lifelong gift of the love of reading—and all the academic success that comes with it,” says Caroline Mauldin, Executive Director of SCFM. “We are grateful to Bojangles’ and their customers for making hundreds of ‘first libraries’ possible for children who need them most.”