Nonprofit Organizations That Support Literacy

This is a rereleased and updated list, it was originally published in December 1, 2020.

Today is Giving Tuesday where folks turn their holiday spending toward nonprofit organizations. I’ve compiled this list of some of my favorite organizations that promote and foster literacy in our communities. I have also included organizations submitted by The Stacks followers on Instagram. I encourage you to use this as a jumping off point and do your own research to find nonprofits that are doing work you wish to support and promote. This list is by no means comprehensive, but its a great place to start if you’re in a place to give! This list is presented in alphabetical order.

  • Athens Books to Prisoners – a volunteer run organization that sends free books to prisoners in Ohio upon request.
  • Behind the Book – inspire New York City public school students to love reading by bringing accomplished authors and their books into classrooms.
  • Blue Stoop – a home for literary Philly, Blue Stoop’s mission is to support writers, foster creativity, and build inclusive literary community.
  • Book Industry Charitable Foundation (Binc) – Assisting Bookstore Employees & Comic Retailers Facing Hardship & Supporting Career Development
  • BookGive – We distribute new and gently used books from our service station to individuals, schools, and nonprofits throughout metro Denver.
  • Books to Prisoners – a Seattle-based nonprofit organization whose mission is to foster a love of reading behind bars, encourage the pursuit of knowledge and self-empowerment, and break the cycle of recidivism.
  • Coaching for Literacy – sports teams, athletes, and businesses take part in the #Fight4Literacy promoting childhood reading in their communities.
  • Ferst Readers – children in their literacy program receive a bookstore-quality, age-specific book and resources mailed to their home every month until their fifth birthday.
  • First Book – matches nonprofit organizations with local classrooms and programs serving children in need.
  • Free Minds Book Club – uses the literary arts, workforce development, and violence prevention to connect incarcerated and formerly incarcerated youths and adults to their voices, their purpose, and the wider community.
  • Freedom Reads – This is the organization formerly known as Million Book Project (where The Stacks community donated close to $100,000 in 2021). Founded by friend of The Stacks, poet, and MacArthur genius, Reginald Dwayne Betts. Their mission is to bring books into prisons to combat what incarceration does to the spirit.
  • Imagination Library – Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school, no matter their family’s income.
  • Indigenous Literacy Foundation – Australia based organization that aims to make a difference in the lives of Indigenous families by gifting thousands of new culturally appropriate books – with a focus on early literacy and first language.
  • Inside Books Project – inside Books Project is an Austin-based community service volunteer organization that sends free books and educational materials to prisoners in Texas.
  • Kid’s Book Bank Cleveland – foster improved literacy and a love of reading by providing free books to children in need through collaboration with community partners.
  • Lambda Literary – nurtures and advocates for LGBTQ writers, elevating the impact of their words to create community, preserve our legacies, and affirm the value of our stories and our lives.
  • Liberation Library – provides books to youth in prison to encourage imagination, self-determination and connection to outside worlds of their choosing.
  • Literacy First – makes sure that children in Central Texas develop the reading skills that allow them to realize their full potential with regard to education, economic opportunity, civic engagement, and personal development
  • Make Way for Books – an early literacy nonprofit that provides proven programs, services, and resources to 30,000 young children, parents, and educators throughout southern Arizona each year
  • More Than Words – is a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers youth who are in the foster care system, court involved, homeless, or out of school to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business in Boston, MA.
  • National Book Foundation – to celebrate the best literature in America, expand its audience, and ensure that books have a prominent place in American celebrate the best literature in America, expand its audience, and ensure that books have a prominent place in American culture.
  • Open Books Chicago – Open Books is a nonprofit that provides literacy experiences for tens of thousands of readers each year through inspiring programs and the creative capitalization of books.
  • Prisoners Lit Project – An all-volunteer grassroots group that sends hundreds of free book packages to needy prisoners in the United States every month.
  • Read to a Child – foster a love of reading, improve literacy skills, and empower underserved children by inspiring adults to read to them regularly.
  • Reading is Fundamental – inspiring a passion for reading among all children, providing quality content to make an impact and engaging communities in the solution to give every child the fundamentals for success
  • Ready Readers – prepares preschool-age children living in low-income communities to become readers by reading aloud to them, providing high quality books, and offering literacy-related experiences.
  • Room to Read – seeks to transform the lives of millions of children in low-income communities by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education.
  • Rx for Reading – expand access to high-quality children’s books and support families in reading with their children in Detroit, MI.
  • Smart Reading – literacy nonprofit that serves kids in Oregon’s with two ingredients critical for literacy and learning success: one-on-one reading time and access to books.
  • The Conscious Kid – an education, research, and policy organization dedicated to equity and promoting healthy racial identity development in youth.
  • The Book Thing of Baltimore – put unwanted books into the hands of those who want them.
  • The Book Truck – give thousands of free books to foster care, homeless, and low-income teens throughout Los Angeles County
  • The Bronx is Reading – promote literacy and foster a love of reading among children, teens, and adults. They are currently doing a drive to bring a Children’s and general interest bookstore to The Bronx. You can support that drive here.
  • The Maryland Book Bank – The Maryland Book Bank is a nonprofit organization committed to cultivating literacy in children from under-resourced neighborhoods.
  • Traveling Stories – empowering kids to outsmart poverty by helpinng them fall in love with reading.
  • We Need Diverse Books – non-profit and a grassroots organization of children’s book lovers that advocates essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.
  • Women’s Prison Book Project – providing women and transgender persons in prison with free reading materials covering a wide range of topics, all-volunteer, grassroots organization.

Note: The language for each nonprofit was taken directly for the organization’s website.

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The Stacks x Million Book Project Fundraiser

We’re doing something big to celebrate three years of The Stacks! Our annual fundraiser is back!

For the next 30 days, The Stacks will be raising money for The Million Book Project to support their mission of bringing books and authors into prisons to facilitate meaningful conversations that break down barriers. The Million Book Project is an initiative that harnesses the power of literature to counter what prison does to the spirit. It was founded by author, poet, attorney, and activist Reginald Dwayne Betts. The Project’s work is to build a 500-book Freedom Library and place it in prisons in every state in this country, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. These curated libraries promise to build community among and between those incarcerated, prison staff, and friends and family back home.

The goal for The Stacks community is to raise $50,000 which will help to build ten new 500-book Freedom Libraries.

I know this is a whole lot of money, but I truly believe in the power of this community to do incredible and unbelievable things motivated by our love of books. Why should this be any different? If possible, I am asking folks to forgo buying a book this month, and instead to make a $25 donation for this incredible organization.

Take a look at what your donations will support:

$5 – Gifts in the single digits say solidarity & help nurture The Million Book Project.

$25 – Put a book or two in the hands of a reader in prison.

$150 – Provide a book club in a prison with a set of a next book to digest & discuss.

$500 – Supply the latest book of the month to book club participants in multiple prisons across a state.

Above & Beyond – Help to fill the shelves of a Freedom Library with books that open worlds and feed dreams.

Due to strict prison regulations we can only accept monetary donations through the link below, please do not send any physical books.

Please note: The Million Book Project has its institutional home within the Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School. Click the button above to donate online or send checks to: Yale Law School Fund ATTN: The Million Book Project, 127 Wall Street. New Haven, CT 06511 (Please include in your memo line: Designation Number 38701)