Doug Forrestal and Greg Barber
As the eye of Hurricane Sandy was bearing down for its devastating landfall on New Jersey and Long Island and points north, MagazineLiteracy.org was laying the groundwork for creating the largest free literacy market in the world – this was our dream, our moonshot. We set a goal to receive a million magazines for literacy by Earth Day. Next week, we celebrate the United Nation’s International Literacy Day and our anniversary with over a million magazines in hand.
Thanks to humanitarian heroes like Doug Forrestal at Ryleco Displays, Kathleen DiChiara – who started the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in the trunk of her car and now feeds over 900,000 hungry people a year, Greg Barber at Neil’s Wheels, Joel Quadracci at Quad/Graphics – whose family built the largest magazine printing and logistics company in the world, and the faith and support of industry champions like Joe Ripp at TIME Inc., Bob Sauerberg at Conde Nast, Kent Johnson at Highlights, Austin Kiplinger who made the first investment in our fledgling literacy idea, Linda Ruth, Samir Husni, Mary Berner and Nina Link before her at the MPA, Joe Quint, John Crouse, Lisa Scott at the PBAA, Frank Rosner, Melanie Spence-Ayer, our friends at FIPP, and so many other titans, our global literacy market is getting off the launchpad.
With titles for every reading age and interest, magazines and comics are the most powerful literacy engines on the planet for disrupting poverty.
We have had a long-time vision to marry the delivery of magazines to at-risk readers with the vast network of humanitarian hunger relief programs – literally feeding people hungry to read. As word got out, large volumes of magazines started pouring in from consumers and publishers – truckloads of tens and hundreds of thousands at a time – our perfect storm. The Community Food Bank of New Jersey and the Harry Chapin Food Bank on Long Island began accepting and distributing magazines to at-risk readers. Doug Forrestal called to help and never flinched when truck after truck of magazines arrived at Ryleco Displays in Edison. That gave us the runway we needed for our massive global humanitarian literacy mission.
Now, we have opened facilities in New Jersey and Wisconsin to move large volumes of magazines and comics to literacy programs and into the hands, homes, and hearts of millions of at-risk readers, worldwide. Thanks to Doug and his team and logistics support from Joel Quadracci at Quad/Graphics, and generous supplies of magazines and comics from consumers who love sharing them, and from Conde Nast, Hearst, TIME Inc. Meredith, National Geographic, Highlights, Cobblestone, Owl Kids, Fun for Kidz, and the Majeski Foundation, and others, we have assembled over a million magazines for delivery to at-risk readers.
Our first project was organized by a classroom of kindergarten children in San Fransisco who delivered magazines to children in a nearby shelter. We are already getting requests from across the U.S. and around the world for reading materials – from India, Sri Lanka, Japan, Ireland, Jamaica, Haiti, and more. We just sent Lacrosse magazine to a team forming in Croatia – and even sent 2,000 magazines and comics to Inuit children and families north of the Arctic Circle!
Literacy = Dignity + Prosperity. We are disrupting poverty. In the U.S. alone, more than 12 million children in poverty have zero books at home – it’s a shocking statistic when you consider that poor infants hear 30 million fewer words than others just when their growing brains are laying down the network for life. With our magazine literacy market, we can fix that today. Each night, 35,000 women – many who are moms with children – seek the safety of a domestic abuse shelter. With magazines, we can comfort them tonight. There are over a million homeless students struggling to get to school and through each day. With magazines and comics, we can inspire them to be superheroes for a brighter tomorrow.
Reading is where it all begins. We have accomplished so much on our quest, but have a long way to go to reach our full promise. We need help. Thanks to these selfless humanitarian acts of kindness, we are poised to reach tens of millions of eager readers. We are going back to the moon and beyond – sparking the iMAGinations of the next generation of planetary guardians. We need every person who loves to read, write, publish, and promote magazine media, in every corner of every magazine title to be a part of this incredible journey.