BCC News Detail

40,000 First Books Go to Local Children in Need

Released: 3/18/2014 5:23:55 PM

Children receiving 40,000 First Books from historic partnership at Burlington County College
BCC, N.J. Secretary of Higher Education, African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and First Book partner to strengthen education for children in need

Burlington County College’s (BCC) First Book Initiative, a historic partnership of state, county and national partners, officially began distributing 40,000 free books to local community organizations serving children in need.

The college is the first in the nation to formally incorporate this literacy initiative within several academic programs including Service Learning, English and the First Year Initiative designed to help first-year students complete their education. The project spanned both the fall 2013 and spring 2014 semesters.

“A good book has many different chapters and this project brings together many important goals we have at Burlington County College – meaningful service to others, challenging students to think critically and manage large projects, while giving a jump start for children in their educational journey ,” said BCC President Dave Hespe.

The initiative also fits within Burlington County’s Workforce Development Initiative as a way to improve educational opportunities for all children.

“Providing books puts children on a path toward academic success,” said Burlington County Freeholder Deputy Director Joe Howarth. “Burlington County is very proud to host such a meaningful project that will be a model for the rest of the nation on how to improve educational opportunities, and outcomes.”

New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks said she hopes to see the pilot expand throughout New Jersey.

“Literacy is key to empowerment,” Hendricks said. “The distribution of 40,000 new books to disadvantaged children is an important first step for a program that I hope will help instill a love of reading in children throughout the State.”

The partnership was sparked by the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey’s education initiative, “Making New Jersey More Competitive” designed to develop and strengthen the marketable skills of future job seekers throughout the state.

“The chamber supports a number of initiatives that will provide an immediate impact in transforming the lives of young people and placing them on a path of success,” said John Harmon, Sr., the chamber’s President and CEO. “Burlington County College’s First Book Initiative is a big step forward on that trail.”

First Book President and CEO Kyle Zimmer said the initiative has instilled leadership skills in BCC students and will improve educational opportunities for children in need.

“No one understands the transformative power of education better than community college students,” Zimmer said. “Burlington County College students are sending 40,000 books into the community, which is going to help turn a lot of children into readers.”

The books, delivered by truck to the college’s Mount Laurel campus on Friday, are worth an estimated $400,000. Eligible organizations serving children in need – including low-income, military or disabled – will pick up books throughout the week.

“This is a gift that will last a lifetime,” said BCC Vice President of Special Projects Dr. Beverly Richardson. “We hope it will enrich the lives of children as much as it enriches ours for participating in such a worthwhile endeavor.”