Two-thirds of U.S. kids in poverty – 10 million+ children – live in homes with no books. We can fix that today. 35,000 moms and kids spend each night in a domestic violence shelter. We can bring them comfort tonight.
by John Mennell
Thanks to broad and deep support from throughout our community, MagazineLiteracy.org has opened an office in downtown Madison WI to engage as many people as possible to join our team to organize national and global literacy outreach.
Madison is a thriving cultural, academic, and technology fountain tucked between two large lakes, and rich with people passionate about doing good in the world. We’ve been buoyed by a stream of champions here toward reaching our full potential. Our first office (and ready annex) was the Ancora Coffee Shop. Collaboration space at Horizon Coworking, Bendyworks, and 100state lifted us into higher orbits. Our new home on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd has been made possible by Urban Land Interests – and began on their loading dock with our first pallets of magazines sent by Conde Nast. Since that literacy seed was planted, we have rescued over a million magazine back issues and comics from Hearst, National Geographic, Time Inc., Highlights, Cobblestone, Owl, and others – channeling many to eager readers via hunger relief organizations in the United States and Canada, such as the Community Foodbank of New Jersey, the River Food Pantry, People to People, and others.
According to Reading is Fundamental, two-thirds of U.S. kids in poverty – 10 million+ children – live in homes with no books – none – a number that stunned me. We can fix that today. Sadly, 35,000 moms and kids spend each night in a domestic violence shelter. We can bring them comfort tonight. There are 1 million+ homeless students – hidden from us (1,300 in Madison – another stunner). We can help them succeed in school and life. The American Academy of Pediatrics has prescribed reading with children as young as infants vital to eradicating illiteracy disease. I’ve learned from years mentoring children that a child unable to read is a child lost, and we know that adults unable to read were once children who didn’t learn how. Without literacy, you cannot read medical instructions from your doctor, a prescription, a job application, a recipe, a note from your child’s teacher, a web page, a text, a tweet, or a poem.
At MagazineLiteracy.org, bolstered by our new office, and with large-scale operations developing in the New York City area and other locations around the U.S. and globe, we are disrupting poverty by feeding kids, teens, and adults hungry to read.
Ours is the first and only project of its kind, scale, and ambition in the world. With titles for every age and interest – whether at school, or gifted to foster a bond between a mentor and mentee, or shared with neighbors in a shelter or job training program, or payed forward into the hands of a foster child, or delivered to a family via a food pantry newsstand, we know that magazines and comics are among the most powerful literacy tools available.
We are here to inspire everyone in the world who loves to write, publish, read, and share their favorite magazines to help stand up a global crowdfunded literacy marketplace to attack illiteracy at its roots to eradicate poverty.This is our moonshot. We need your help.
I built this Bezos door desk for our literacy work while imagining the change I wanted to see in our world. With this ribbon cutting at our global operations center, the future has arrived at the first day of the rest of our story. Early in my career, I worked in the same global markets technology group at Bankers Trust as Jeff Bezos – of course, I know that, but he wouldn’t. From there, our paths take very different, but equally interesting and rewarding paths. Not long after, with 63 cents in my pocket, I walked from Washington DC to Boston through the canyons of Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Trenton, Newark, New York, Danbury, Waterbury, Hartford, and Providence, to spotlight hunger and poverty in the U.S. Along the way, I encountered big unselfish hearts and a wealth of human spirit. A dear friend joined me on the leg across Connecticut. I left the 63 cents for a tip on a free cup of coffee somewhere in New England.
That journey continues today. Walk with us.