Illustration by Michael Mennell
MagazineLiteracy.org is blessed with amazing amounts of technology and human support that allows us to run lean literacy operations – we are still all volunteers – pushed to the limit and eager to bring a truly automated, crowdfunded global marketplace to life to reach our full potential.
We know that magazines are enormously powerful for literacy – with titles for every reading age and interest, and especially valuable for engaging reluctant readers.
We need to shed our skin and transform MagazineLiteracy.org to marshal rich veins of resources – time, talent, and treasure – to tap millions of magazines available for millions of eager at-risk readers in mentoring and job training programs, homeless and domestic violence shelters, food pantries and foster care.
The call to action could not be more urgent:
- The U.S. Census says there are 16 million children in poverty.
- The U.S. Dept. of Education reports there are 1 million+ homeless students
- Reading is Fundamental says two-thirds of kids in poverty have no books at home
Children learn to read up to grade three and read to learn after that. A child unable to read is a child lost – unable to learn any school subject. Adults unable to read were once children who didn’t learn how – we can change this.
We are hitting a stride – our first magazine recycling project was organized by a class of kindergarten children in San Francisco for children at a nearby shelter – we’ve grown from that and helping tens of thousands of kids and families to now hundreds of thousands – but there are million to reach. Even now – at hundreds of thousands, we need a platform and methods and leadership that leave no stone unturned to marshal the enormous spirit and resources needed to move the vast supplies of reading materials we are mining.
I’ve been active in hunger relief for 30 years – and have held a long-time dream to marry the magazine publishing supply chain with the nation’s vast food bank network – to get reading materials into hands and homes to feed people hungry to read – it’s happening now in a “be careful what you wish for way.” – a good problem to have.
Sept. 8 is International Literacy Day, a global UN celebration and the anniversary of the idea for MagazineLiteracy.org twenty years ago, and our incorporation as a 501(c)(3) ten years ago. Our goal is to mark the day with pledges of 1 Million Magazines for 1 Million Readers.
We just sent 2,000 magazines and comics to Inuit children north of the Arctic Circle in Canada and just received a gift of 150,000 children’s magazines that are going straight to the Community Foodbank of NJ – they feed 900,000 people a year – mostly children in the areas hardest hit by superstorm Sandy – but hunger and literacy needs were perfect storms there and coast-to-coast long before that or Irene, or Katrina (when we sent 40,000 magazines to all the Head Start programs in Mississippi).
Large publishers are working on plans to send us hundreds of thousands of magazines – pallets collected from every closet and warehouse in every corner of the publishing supply chain – from printers to newsstands – for delivery off the backs of trucks to food banks along their routes – and consumers and businesses are sending us their gently read magazines too.
All this is exactly what we’ve asked for, but presents two enormous challenges:
- We need to transform our online marketplace into a truly automated, self-service, crowdfunded platform.
- We need to invite and engage every single literacy organization and stakeholder in every single zip code in America, and we need to marshal grassroots volunteers and teams in every community to rise up and rapidly move the incoming magazines like this:
Fundamentally, we need to move large volumes of magazines into the hands and homes of at-risk readers to grow to tap every available magazine for literacy.
Our vision is to create an online platform to assemble a massive list of literacy programs and a massive list of volunteers around every food bank – when the pallets hit, our literacy bees will “swarm the stack” making it disappear from the warehouse and reappear in the hands of readers via community literacy programs.
So, answer our Rise Up for Literacy call to action to Get Mags and to and Give Mags.
NJ – Rise Up for Literacy!
LI – Rise Up for Literacy!
DC – Rise Up for Literacy!
Miami – Rise Up for Literacy!
International Falls – Rise Up for Literacy!
With hundreds of thousands of magazines already headed to Food Banks in NJ, LI, OH, IN, and WI, and elsewhere, the need is more timely than ever.
When we imagine what’s possible, we make it so.