Newark Public Schools and United Way Team Up for City Wide Literacy Engagement Program

Program Launches Little Free Libraries with Books and Ribbon Cutting at Newark’s Jesse Allen Park

June 23,2014 (Newark, NJ) – An ambitious initiative to encourage literacy and build community came to fruition last Friday, June20, with the launch of Little Free Libraries, a free book exchange program taking place in locations across the city. A collaboration between the Newark Public Schools (NPS), The United Way of Essex and Hudson, the City of Newark,The Trust for Public Land and other community groups, the five new wooden mini-library structures were built, painted and installed by NPS construction and art students who attend Newark Leadership Academy. Taking place on National Summer Learning Day in Newark’s Jesse Allen Park, the launch was timed as a reminder of summer learning loss prevention.

“Literacy is critical to academic and life success. It is a fact that one in six children who are not reading proficiently by third grade will not graduate from high school on time – a rate four times higher than that of proficient reader,” said Newark Public Schools Superintendent Cami Anderson. “The Little Free Libraries are a powerful grassroots way to encourage all members of the community to read, and we’re proud to have been a part of making it happen.”

During Friday’s launch ceremony, United Way of Essex and Hudson CEO Keith Green was joined by Newark Leadership Academy and Louise A. Spencer Elementary School students, as well as Superintendent Anderson and other representatives from Newark Public Schools, City of Newark,United Way, The Trust for Public Land, and Friends of Jesse Allen Park as he presented books to all library recipients for the five sites. Newark Public Schools’ Office of Early Childhood, Jumpstart, United Way of Essex and Hudson,NJEA Families and Schools Together, and the Foundation for Newark’s Future provided the initial inventory for the libraries. The books will offer Newark residents reading materials that can be accessed any time of day or night, year round and there are plans for community and schoolbook drives to keep the libraries continually stocked.

Little Free Libraries have been built in countries throughout the world as a way to increase literacy and instill a love of reading in children, families, and the surrounding community. Newark’s Little Free Libraries are located in parks and at early childhood centers throughout the city:

  • Jesse Allen Park-41 Avon Avenue
  • Early Childhood School West-26 Speedway Avenue
  • Hope Garden-260 Bergen Street
  • River Front Park-Raymond Boulevard/Somme Street
  • Sarah Ward Nursery-27 Jay Street

For more information on Little Free Libraries, visit,or watch this video (with broadcast-quality B-roll) produced by Newark Public Schools: