United Way of Essex and West Hudson Receives $4.7 Million Dollar Donation to Implement 3-Year Literacy Program in Newark

United Way of Essex and West Hudson in collaboration with Scholastic Book Fairs and My Very Own Library to provide thousands of free books to students of Newark Public Schools

[Newark, NJ – October 17, 2016] United Way of Essex and West Hudson (UWEWH) announced today it will receive a $4.4 million private donation to support literacy for Newark Public School students.

The monies will fund the continuation of the My Very Own Library (MVOL) program, an initiative made possible through United Way of Essex and West Hudson (UWEWH), the program’s administrator, and Scholastic Book Fairs, a division of Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, and the exclusive book supplier of MVOL.

United Way of Essex and West Hudson, headquartered in Newark, announced the three-year implementation plan for MVOL, an international initiative that encourages literacy by offering students in need an opportunity to own their own books.

Since 2011, the MVOL initiative, has given students the opportunity to select free books from school book fairs. Research indicates students foster a lifelong love of reading and demonstrate strong literacy skills as they build home libraries.

For the 2016-2017 school year, three more schools have been added to the list of MVOL schools, expanding the project’s reach to 26 schools and 16,500 students. In total, this year’s program will place 165,000 more books into the home libraries of Newark students.

“My Very Own Library gives students the opportunity to explore books by selecting those they are interested in reading. Self-choice and voice is critical to students’ learning and MVOL provides students the ability to build their own home libraries. There is no better way to foster a love of reading than to allow students to choose the books they want to read during their free time,” Catherine Wilson, President & CEO, United Way of Essex and West Hudson.

At each of two Scholastic Book Fairs, students will be able to choose three books for free to build their own home library, and at a third book fair, each student will select four books, bringing the total for each child in the program to 10 books which they then own. Also included in the MVOL program, are school visits with children’s book authors, during which 100 copies of each author’s book will be distributed to participating students. Additionally, each school will receive $1,000 in grant funding to host three family literacy events which will coincide with each book fair event, helping families understand the importance of independent reading beyond the school day..

“Scholastic is proud to work with organizations like United Way of Essex and West Hudson and My Very Own Library, to ensure that children who may never have owned their own books have an opportunity to choose and own the books they want to read,” said Alan Boyko, President of Scholastic Book Fairs. “By providing these students with access to new quality titles of their choice we hope each child will discover the power and joy of reading.”

The freedom to select their own books is a key facet of the program that’s meant to encourage students’ love of reading. According to the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report(tm), 91% of children ages 6–17 say “my favorite books are the ones that I have picked out myself.” Furthermore, 52% of children ages 6-17 say the person who does the best job of choosing books to read for fun is “me.”

“My Very Own Library and the United Way of Essex and West Hudson are helping to create a new generation of enthusiastic readers in Newark children,” said Superintendent Christopher D. Cerf of Newark Public Schools. “The year alone, My Very Own Library will bring 165,000 books to 16,500 students in 26 of our schools. By giving our young people access to valuable reading materials, we are instilling a love of reading that will help them both inside and outside the classroom.”

Participating schools in Newark, NJ include:

  • Abington Avenue School
  • B.R.I.C.K. Avon Academy
  • B.R.I.C.K. Peshine Avenue
  • Belmont Runyon School
  • Camden Street School
  • Chancellor Ave School/Annex
  • Cleveland Elementary
  • Dr. E. Alma Flagg
  • Elliott Street School
  • George Washington Carver
  • Harriett Tubman School
  • Hawkins Street School
  • Hawthorne Avenue
  • Ivy Hill Elementary
  • Louise A. Spencer
  • Luis Munoz Marin
  • McKinley School
  • Miller Street
  • Oliver Street
  • Quitman Street Community School
  • Rafael Hernandez Elementary
  • Ridge Street
  • South 17th Street
  • Speedway Academies
  • Sussex Avenue
  • Thirteenth Avenue School

My Very Own Library is one of three literacy programs offered by United Way of Essex and West Hudson including Raising a Reader and Celebrity Read. For additional information on My Very Own Library, please visit www.myveryownlibrary.org or United Way of Essex and West Hudson.