Can MagLiteracy.org Exist?

Dear Friends –

MagLiteracy.org is at an existential fork in our amazing journey – our moonshot. One path leads to achieving everything we set out to be. Please read through this personal note that lays out the way forward.

Our literacy mission and work together is extraordinary – engaging the enormous literacy power of magazines on an ambitious humanitarian scale never achieved at any time, anywhere in the world.

You can see in all our stories that our focus and impact is special and uniquely powerful for changing lives, families, and communities for good. Our literacy mission is needed now more than ever, as National Center for Education Statistics data shows a growing reading crisis that began well before the COVID pandemic.

Literacy ends poverty of the mind, heart, and pocket. Reading is where it all begins. With titles for every age, enthusiasm, professional aspiration, and language, and the fact that holding printed stories – ink on paper – connects with the brain in a way that improves reading comprehension and retention, print magazines are the most powerful literacy engines on earth. Let’s not let this powerful tool slip from our grasp.

Together, we have demonstrated every possibility that we have dreamed, because we, YOU keep showing up to invest your time, talent, and treasure. Consumers love the favorite magazine brands that reflect who they are, and love love love to share their magazine passions with at-risk readers to promote literacy and joy.

However, like the hundreds of thousands of at-risk readers we reach, MagLiteracy.org needs support to achieve its full literacy promise. Our growth exceeds our individual funding capacity, and we need larger financial commitments now to continue to operate at the scale necessary to meet known and emerging literacy needs and opportunities.

We are an all-volunteer logistics operation that has been able to move millions of reading materials in boxes and on pallets, gifted by consumers and publishers, into our distribution centers and out to literacy programs and readers, thanks to the big hearts and enormous contributions made by champion people and companies.

Volunteers sort and deliver magazines from our Ohio, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Toronto, and other facilities.

Our consumer and business recyclers collect and ship their favorite magazines and cherished collections.

Publishers and distributors like PubWorX, and retail newsstands like Barnes & Noble, donate boxes and pallets of beautiful magazines. We’ve received another 100,000 Cricket Media magazines this week, and millions from publishers like the National Wildlife Federation, Owl Hill Media, Highlights for Children, Trusted Media Brands, Hearst, Condé Nast, Meredith, Time, National Geographic, Sesi, Culturs, Success, the National Historical Maritime Society, The Sun, Yankee, Skeptic, the Columbus Dispatch Co., and more.

Commercial development, logistics, and transportation companies, like Urban Land Interests in Madison Wisconsin, the Atrium Company in Johnstown Ohio, where we operate the first large-scale Magazine Literacy Bank – like a foodbank for literacy, and Quad and Schneider house us, do our heavy lifting, and transport truckloads of literacy materials end-to-end through our literacy pipeline.

Industry pundits like Samir Husni, Bo Sacks, Linda Ruth, Linda Thomas Brooks, and Joe Berger tell our stories.

We need your help now to secure necessary funds to underwrite our operations. More than ever, I need your assistance assembling financial investments to cover the logistics costs to receive, transport, process, and deliver our magazine supply to waiting literacy programs, and into the hands, homes, and hearts of the current and next generation of eager readers.

Please donate what you can now at MagLiteracy.org. We leverage every dollar of personal financial support to make enormous literacy impacts.

Please reply to help locate the larger game-changing financial donations we need before the end of the year to exist and continue on our amazing journey, so we can reach our full magazine literacy promise.

As Ken Johnson, our Wisconsin leader says, the image above says it all.

Let’s iMAGine what’s possible and make it so!

Godspeed to you and yours this holiday season.

With utmost gratitude –


John Mennell



The Magazine Literacy Bank upcycles magazines down the last mile into the hands homes and hearts of at-readers

Over a billion magazines across over 7,000 titles in the US alone are printed each year. We love love love them, but what happens to them after we read them?

The Magazine Literacy Bank is operated by MagLiteracy.org, with locations in Wisconsin, Ohio, Mississippi, Alabama, Toronto, and India, like a food bank that feeds people hungry to read. It is the only program of its kind in the world, and rescues every good condition magazine copy it can from consumers, publishers, and newsstands for delivery to literacy programs at food pantries, homeless, domestic abuse, and trafficking shelters, mentoring and job training programs, schools, foster care agencies, and more.

Continue reading “The Magazine Literacy Bank upcycles magazines down the last mile into the hands homes and hearts of at-readers”

‘Feeding their minds’: Johnstown nonprofit operates first literacy bank

Joyce Roberts, of Newark, chooses items for her granddaughter from the shelves of magazines at the Food Pantry Network of Licking County.

Read Columbus Dispatch Article

Céilí Doyle The Columbus Dispatch

NEWARK — Joyce Roberts stood at the entrance of the Food Pantry Network of Licking County, one hand cocked on her hip, the other clutching an armful of magazines as she continued perusing the newsstand, waiting for a glossy title to catch her eye.

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Quad Donates $25,000 to MagLiteracy.org to Kickstart Creation of National Literacy Marketplace

Donation Supports Efforts to Combat Poverty Amid Rising Challenges From the COVID-19 Pandemic and Persistent Social Issues

September 10, 2020

SUSSEX, Wis. & COLUMBUS, Ohio — In celebration of International Literacy Day and the 16th anniversary of the founding of MagLiteracy.org this week, Quad announced today that it has donated $25,000 to MagLiteracy.org to kickstart the creation of a first-of-its-kind national literacy marketplace. The marketplace, a nationwide network of regional literacy banks, will facilitate donations of new, recycled or expired magazines and comic books to local literacy programs – an important tool in combatting poverty.

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BoSacks – Pandemic Publishing Roundtable

Pandemic Publishing Roundtable: An Industry-Wide Celebration

By Linda Ruth on August 22, 2020 – reprinted

John Mennell is throwing a party, and we are all invited. In fact, John says, he wants every industry stakeholder—every printer, shipper, distributor, retailer and publisher—to join him in celebrating literacy.

John joined the Publishing Pandemic Roundtable–Joe Berger, Samir Husni, Bo Sacks, Sherin Pierce, Gemma Peckham, and me–on Wednesday to talk about his vision.

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Bosacks Speaks Out

Bosacks Speaks Out: Quad Graphics, Magazine Literacy and Meaningful Industrial Kindness

April 20, 2020 – reprinted

Special people and special companies deserve a shout out of thanks and gratitude from time to time. In this case, I want to bring to your attention the tireless work of John Mennell of MagazineLiteracy.org and Joel Quadracci of Quad Graphics. In my book they are unsung heroes performing necessary acts of kindness valiantly even though behind the scenes.

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John Mennell interview with Mr. Magazine – Samir Husni

Building a Pipeline to Literacy – One Magazine at a Time – This is the Goal of John Mennell, Founder of MagazineLiteracy.org, an Organization Dedicated to Feeding the Minds and Spirits of People with the Wonderful World of Magazines…

March 12, 2014 – reprinted

The printed magazines are so important. The experience of holding a printed magazine in your hand and reading it, the experience of finding some time and reading a print magazine is so valuable.” John Mennell, MagazineLiteracy.org Founder

Continue reading “John Mennell interview with Mr. Magazine – Samir Husni”

Make literacy funding personal to change lives and the world for good

By John Mennell

Like food and water, literacy is essential for humans to thrive.

At MagLiteracy.org, we are blessed with so much generous support from thousands of donors and volunteers, and community leaders who make our mission possible. As I write this, I am $469 in to a $170 Facebook birthday fundraising campaign to support MagLiteracy.org.

I am sharing the details of this fundraiser to show a way you can bring in the much needed financial support that allows us to meet growing literacy needs. Whether it’s your birthday or any other idea that you have to inspire others to support your own MagLiteracy.org fundraising campaign, we appreciate every dollar you raise and gift to our literacy mission.

The people you know will support your fundraising if you support it yourself and tell your personal experiences. Here’s my story that I posted on Facebook.

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America is facing a children’s reading crisis

Call to action: There is a children’s reading crisis in the USA that started before the pandemic and has been worsened by it. Most children in poverty have zero books at home. Together, with your help, we can change that today!

In 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) conducted a special administration of the NAEP long-term trend (LTT) reading and mathematics assessments for age 9 students to examine student achievement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Average scores for age 9 students in 2022 declined 5 points in reading compared to 2020. This is the largest average score decline in reading since 1990

Scores rose significantly between 1999 and 2012, then began to decline until the start or the COVID pandemic, followed by a sharp decline.

Print children’s magazines are especially powerful for literacy that changes lives for good

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We need a new three-legged stool to reach our literacy promise

Approaching our birthday at MagLiteracy.org on September 8th – the United Nation’s International Literacy Day – we are taking stock of our accomplishments and way forward. Thanks to generous support from true believers in our literacy mission, we are beginning to scale up to reach our full promise. Along our journey we’ve taken many important lessons to heart about our why, what, and how. We know now that three vital ingredients are necessary for success – our three-legged stool – people, magazines, and funds.

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The nose knows

When meeting someone new, you look for common threads to begin a relationship. Preparing for a call with fragrance expert Shahzad HAIDER, I searched for that common ground.

We know in academia that the mixing of disciples and their disciplines sparks new ideas unimaginable by either alone. At MagLiteracy.org, we’ve always known that print magazines are especially powerful for literacy. Daniel Dejan taught me at Samir Husni’s Act 9 conference at the Ol’ Miss Magazine Innovation Center that there is a haptic or touch response when holding a printed magazine or book and turning the pages that improves reading comprehension and retention.

Then the epiphany. We have always found an intersection with literacy and the fashion, art, and culture magazines we love as both inspirational and aspirational. People are passionate about their pursuits as reflected in their favorite magazines. We experience the magazines we love through not only touch, but smell – the paper, the ink, and the infused fragrances that advertisers insert.

Shahzad explained that studies show smells trigger deep, emotional memories that can further stimulate brain development. One study of olfactory training in older adults found it not only improved performance in identifying smells, but also was associated with improvement in other cognitive abilities.

Recycling for a Cause

A rush of cooling air or heat greets Kaitlyn as she walks through the Westerwood Community automatic doors to pick up the stacks of magazines that the residents have left with Kristin, the Lifestyle Director. This relationship began just over a year ago with a quick email sent into the community.

When Kaitlyn began volunteering with Mag Literacy, she was told that a good resource for magazine donations was about to end and began thinking about good local resources that could be tapped to supplement the decrease in magazines that was about to shortly occur. Going through organizations and businesses in the area, her mind went to a retirement community that she had been familiar with for over a decade. 

Westerwood, formally Friendship Village, is located in the heart of a comfortable residential neighborhood just south of Westerville.  The community sits on 23 wooded acres accented by gardens, walking trails, and welcoming courtyards.Kaitlyn has fond memories of visiting her extended family at the community and thought of her current family member still residing at Westerwood. Sending out an email she received a quick reply from Kristin, they would love to help – how can they get involved?

Westerwood provides living options from independent apartments to assisted living apartments and suites, a memory support neighborhood, short-term rehabilitation, skilled nursing, and long-term care. Kaitlyn knew that her relatives had and continue to read magazines and thought what a great opportunity to get a variety of magazines from the community. Kaitlyn asked Kristin if it would be possible for residents to have a spot to drop their gently used magazines for a pick up? Kristin agreed and thus the relationship was made between Mag Literacy and Westerwood. 

To date the Westerwood community has donated over 1,000 magazines towards hundreds of thousands of at-risk children and families across the U.S. and around the globe. 

To learn more about Westerwood please visit their website at Westerwood | Senior Living in Columbus, OH (liveatwesterwood.org)


Our hearts, spirit, attention, and support remain steadfast with the heroic and proud people of Ukraine. Andrii Vdovychenko is the CEO & Owner of Burda Media Ukraine. He has provided this warehouse photo and his first-hand account of the war in Ukraine to FIPP, the global association of magazine trade associations. Freedom is too easily taken for granted, until it’s gone. Freedom from intimidation, harassment, and assault. Freedom to write and read to know the enormous power of words and truth, and the grit to fight for these at all cost, against all odds.

Muskingum County Literacy Council expands our reach down the last mile

The Magazine Literacy Bank in Johnstown, outside Columbus, Ohio, receives magazines recycled by consumers, publishers, and newsstands for delivery to at-risk readers via our teams and literacy partners in Ohio, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Alabama, and across the USA. 

We’ve had a long-time goal to expand our operations to surrounding communities, up to two hours in every direction from the Magazine Literacy Bank as a model for regional operations.

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March Madness

The 2 Billion+ magazines printed each year for US readers would create a stack 37 million feet high, or 7000+ miles into space, 107 times further than Bezos or Branson. Lined up into the sky, end to end, it’s 366,000 miles, enough to lasso the moon from earth.

Literacy ends poverty, of the mind, heart, and pocket. Most poor families have zero books at home. With titles for every age, enthusiasm, professional aspiration, and language, magazines are the most powerful literacy engines on earth.

March is National Reading Month. Everything begins with reading.

At MagLiteracy.org, our moonshot is to rescue every available magazine for literacy from consumers, publishers, and newsstands.

Join us to share the magazine love to change the lives of so many eager at-risk readers for good.

A great day of volunteer recycling, sorting, packing, and machine learning at the Magazine Literacy Bank

Thank you to all the volunteers and supporters who came out to the Magazine Literacy Bank at the Atrium Company warehouse in Johnstown, Ohio, just outside Columbus, Saturday.

People dropped off beautiful recycled magazines to share with new readers, including boxes of magazines picked up by long-time volunteer, Kaitlyn, at a senior adult community wanting to share their magazines with kindred at-risk readers.

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Odyssey Junior Program Nurtures Young Minds

By Joe Hinds

Odyssey Junior is one part of the larger University of Wisconsin formed at UW-Madison in 2015. The Odyssey Project gives adult students facing economic hardships, and other difficulties, a head start towards a college degree by offering them free UW humanities courses and support services.

Odyssey Junior fosters a family experience for underprivileged children who are relatives of Odyssey participants. The Junior Program is currently working with 60 children to develop strong literacy skills in alignment with their interests while expanding their worldview.

As Director Karen Dreyfuss defines it, their mission is to “spark and sustain a love of learning that will really help people find their voice and share it more broadly to discover their interests and talents.”

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PR – MagLiteracy.org Literacy Bank Seeks Tornado Relief Brigade to Deliver Reading Materials from Ohio to Children and Families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 13, 2021

CONTACT: John Mennell, Founder

help@magliteracy.org. 609.651.8430

Columbus, OH – With a supply of over 300,000 children’s magazines, and thousands more for teen and adult readers, the Magazine Literacy Bank, operated by Magliteracy.org, is seeking relief workers, church missions, utility crews, and first responders, traveling from or through the Columbus, Ohio area to tornado struck towns in Kentucky, Illinois, Arkansas, Tennessee, and elsewhere, to transport and deliver boxes of reading materials to relief programs and schools for children and families.

The materials will be available for pick-up at the Magazine Literacy Bank warehouse in Johnstown, Ohio. Those interested should contact help@magliteracy.org. 

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Celebrating teachers who change lives for good

If you’ve ever mentored a middle school or high school student, you know that a child unable to read is lost – unable to do well in any school subject. Adults unable to read were once children who didn’t learn how.

We’ve all heard the stories about teachers who reach deep down into their pockets to provide their students with much needed school supplies.

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Thank you to the volunteers who make our literacy story possible

Our literacy success depends on investments of treasure, time, and talent. With a growing market of over 7,000 print titles in the US alone, matching every reading age, enthusiasm, professional aspiration, and language, magazines for literacy are more precious than gold.

This year we received over a half-million magazines upcycled by consumers, publishers, and newsstands, and put them into the hands and homes of 250,000+ at-risk child, teen, and adult readers, coast to coast, and overseas. There is so much more to do to reach our literacy promise.

Over a billion magazines are printed each year in the USA, enough laid end to end to circle the earth almost 8 times or to stretch near to the moon. We know we need to reach tens of millions of at-risk readers with every copy we can rescue. The heavy lifting of receiving, sorting, and packing the magazines for delivery to literacy programs is done by a virtuous army of volunteers. It’s a heavy literacy lift well worth the end result – smiles on the faces of new readers, many with zero books at home, and poor access to media for education or enjoyment.

Thank you to all the hundreds of volunteers who make our literacy mission possible. We succeed on the shoulders of hundreds more who came before. When I think about what we do at MagLiteracy.org – operating the only Literacy Bank network in the world, and why we do it – to share the literacy love that eradicates poverty of the mind, heart, and pocket to change lives for good, Ken Johnson, who runs our Wisconsin office, is spot on with this excerpted story about stewardship and his own journey.

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Literacy on a roll

By Abigail Jacob

Four states, 750 sprawling miles, eight days of driving: that is what lies between Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Columbus, Ohio. It’s not a journey that many choose to make. But for Dwight and Mary Demaine, the trip was well worth it in order to deliver their precious collection of 250 Gourmet magazines and cookbooks to the Ohio Literacy Bank.

Before this road trip, the recipe magazines and books the Demaines had acquired over 40 years were ready to take on a new life to bring their same joy to kindred at-risk readers. They try to donate what they can; the couple even has staple donating spots in their local area. However, finding a place that wanted magazines was a struggle – at least, until the DeMaine’s discovered MagLiteracy.org.

“We were very surprised when we found your site,” says Dwight Demaine. “It’s unusual to find a place that wants older magazines, so we were very happy to find MagLiteracy.”

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A long-time magazine literacy hero calls home

Today, we received a phone call at the Ohio Literacy Bank from Diana, who lives in a small Ohio town. She needed our mailing address. Diana has been buying copies of Highlights for Children and Taste of Home magazine, and more from her local newsstand every few months, recently over $80 worth of magazines, and shipping them to MagLiteracy.org to share her magazine love with kindred at-risk readers. She always includes a nice note, and wants to hear back that we received them.

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Literacy volunteers mark MLK Day with a weekend of service to reach thousands of readers, worldwide

Literacy is a light to brighten the lives of those in humanity’s dark corners. This weekend, an army of volunteers descended on the Ohio Literacy Bank and other places, to upcycle thousands of donated magazines to at risk readers reached via food banks, pantries, and schools in Ohio, a women’s homeless shelter in New York City, programs serving school children and families in Memphis, Mississippi, and Alabama, schools in central India, and a humanitarian organization in the Kashmir region.

Friday – volunteers transport thousands of donated magazine from Barnes & Noble stores to the Ohio Literacy Bank warehouse and to Ohio State student and service organizations for literacy sorting and packing. Daily shipments of recycled magazines arrive from consumers and publishers across the USA. Volunteers sorting magazines at home deliver finished bundles and pick up more to work on.

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This remarkable literacy brigade is thriving at Ohio State University during the pandemic.

Reading our stories at MagLiteracy.org, you will see that young people wanting to make lasting change for good are the wind in our literacy sails.

Our first magazine recycling project was organized by a classroom of kindergarten students in San Francisco for children at a nearby homeless shelter.

This story is how Ohio State University student Sravya Patibandla has persevered through pandemic darkness to shine our literacy light for thousands of at-risk children and families when it’s needed now more than ever.

Continue reading “This remarkable literacy brigade is thriving at Ohio State University during the pandemic.”

Thank you Atrium Corporation for elevating our literacy mission

Many thanks to the wonderful people who own and operate the Atrium Corporation warehouse in Johnstown Ohio. Their support has enabled us to launch our popup Ohio Literacy Bank. When we received word of a supply of over 100,000 children’s magazines, Atrium stepped up to receive the pallets and allow our volunteers, including their own staff and families, to sort the boxes for delivery to summer feeding and reading programs around Columbus, and from West Virginia to Detroit.

A mountain of kid’s magazines pops up in central Ohio just in time for summer feeding and reading
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A gifted magazine sparks a memory of an early MagLiteracy.org mentor – Austin Kiplinger

By John Mennell

I opened a bin of magazines donated to our literacy project to find these two very special publications – Kiplinger Personal Finance and Highlights for Children High Five.

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