Please join us in thanking the folks at crowdSPRING who have adopted MagazineLiteracy.org as their current Give Back client. This enables us to tap tens of thousands of very talented and creative designers to produce our online banner ad campaign.
Founded by Ross Kimbarovsky and Mike Samson, crowdSPRING was started to help people from around the world access creative talent, and to help creatives from across the globe find new customers. They started the Give Back program to support worthy causes. The staff have taken a personal interest and hands on approach to getting us set up on the crowdSPRING website. Our collaboration puts us in a sweet spot that leverages high tech online crowd sourcing to promote our print magazine literacy initiative.
Our top priorities for magazine distribution are literacy programs that serve homeless children, teens, and families; moms and children in domestic violence shelters; foster children; families served by food pantries; and youth in mentoring programs.
Our objective is to create advertising and promotions that drive consumers to MagazineLiteracy.org, where they can take immediate action to meet literacy needs by donating funds, volunteer time, and magazines.
Like a bowl of soup with warm buttered bread… or a cup of hot chocolate and marshmallows… our banner ad campaign will express the comfort that a magazine can bring to a child and mom who have fled to a homeless or domestic violence shelter.
Together, we are changing the world – one magazine, one child, one mom… one banner ad click at a time.
Today, I attended a kick-off meeting for a local Homeless Education Literacy Program (HELP). I learned many lessons at the meeting that reinforce our priority of meeting the literacy needs of homeless youth and families, moms and children torn by domestic violence, and young people enrolled in mentoring programs – and the power of magazines provided to support mentoring relationships. We discussed many scenarios about homeless students – each overwhelming on their own, and especially so when considered together as the underlying tattered fabric of this and too many communities. There were stories about children living in temporary motel shelters; families living in cars; and overtaxed relative care. There were also success stories – all along a common thread – that for each there had been one person – a caring, appropriate, dependable adult engaged in a child’s life to provide guidance and support. This underscores the importance of mentoring and demonstrates that one person truly can make a difference in the life of a child.
I look forward to every magazine delivery, and last Friday evening was no exception. I walked into the lobby of a Boston women’s shelter carrying recent issues of O, The Oprah magazine, SELF, and Vogue under one arm, and Martha Stewart Living, People, Whole Living, and Every Day with Rachael Ray in the other. Continue reading “Magazines are comfort food for these shelter moms and kids”
At MagazineLiteracy.org, we love to celebrate the amazing work being done at the literacy agencies that help us to get the magazines you love into the hands, hearts, and homes of children and families who want to learn and love to read them. Books are vital for reading and literacy, but here are some stories that explain why new and recycled magazines are so special.
Sharing our success stories is an important way to help spread awareness about the MagazineLiteracy.org cause. Many individuals throughout the United States have rallied their communities to donate magazines and spread literacy to those in need. The interview below with Katie Simmons shines a light on one of our most ardent literacy champions.
I deliver magazines to an inner city bakery training program. When I walk into the cafe with a large bundle of Gourmet, Cooking Light, Saveur, Food & Wine or Eating Well they all exclaim from behind the counter: “Look, the magazine lady is here!” Pure music to my magazine ears. Who knows, one day through the combination of their training and practical work experience, coupled with the engaging articles, they could land their own cooking show! In the meantime, I will continue to deliver magazines filled with mouth watering photos of everything from Lobster Stew to Wild Maine Blueberry Crisp. They are hooked on reading the recipes and articles in the magazines. So, fellow foodies please continue with your generous contributions of food magazines.
Is it possible that just reading the book In Pursuit of Elegance would fill our literacy tool chest with elegant solutions? Perhaps just having finished the Power of Intention audio book helped to move things along. In the last two days I have encountered two beautifully elegant magazine recycling ideas that help to resolve some sticky challenges associated with the logistics of moving magazines around to new readers.
I am, for the first time in my life, in South Dakota, traveling by car from the East Coast to the West Coast. I borrowed a book on tape for the trip: “The Last Campaign: Robert F. Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America.” I’ve just come through Indiana, where RFK entered, and won – against so many odds – his first primary. The book details RFK’s presidential campaign journey through to his most significant primary wins, which happened on the same night in California and South Dakota. I was too young to know about all this and so much more that was happening at the time. What is most striking about the story is not the politics, but the purpose of RFK’s campaign – spotlighting at every chance – the plight of poor children and families in America.
We have all heard “give a person a fish and you feed them for a day… teach them to fish and you feed them for life.” I say, “first you need to feed a person, so they have the strength and the dignity to learn how to fish… next, you need to teach them to read.”
Although I’ve been deeply involved in community and public policy and public service for many decades, I don’t usually comment on education or literacy policy. There are certainly more than enough experts and pundits, and we strive to be a literacy “big tent” – remaining non-partisan in our public service.
Our mission at MagazineLiteracy.org is to leverage our talent and resources to facilitate the flow of reading materials from their varied and generous sources to new readers, not to reinvent the literacy wheels that are already well in motion or to overlap or to presume the needs of expert literacy agents.
However, the intensity of the current economic calamity and the impending dam burst of government and public financing and leadership necessary to reverse it and restore any semblance of balance drives me to underscore the obvious importance of getting back to and sticking with the basics, such as teaching children to read, and getting reading materials into homes with barren bookshelves.
The task will be that much more challenging, but no less important, as public service agents struggle to meet even more critical needs, like food for hungry children, families, and elderly neighbors. As consumers limit spending to necessities, and commerce slows, leading to more layoffs, the already frayed safety net of emergency food, shelter, and health care will be stretched to the breaking point.
If literacy and reading skills are the most basic ingredient for success and productivity in every corner of society, then it’s too easy, but terribly painful now to ask why so many children and adults in the U.S. and around the world cannot read well enough. Even with so much riding on the wave of a digital economy, the fastest growing e-commerce opportunities are around text messaging. No matter how many pages the internet grows to, no matter how many books Google digitizes, no matter how many magazines are available on the Kindle, not one can be read by a child or an adult unable to read. Join our mission to feed children and families hungry to read and succeed.
We are just getting started in Second Life and the learning curve is definitely a challenge. We factor that in to our exploration of new technologies, but we also look to engage volunteers who have particular interests and skills – to flatten the curve. Managing this brings its own challenges, but the benefits far outweigh the costs.
We don’t know what we don’t know.
Our focus on innovation and looking for ways to leverage new social networking and web technology tools helps to increase awareness and engagement of stakeholders and to drive down costs. The opportunity to find hidden value in untapped veins drives our literacy progress forward. If the spaghetti sticks on the wall, we go deeper… if it slides off, we clean up the mess and cook another pot.
In this free social marketplace, we can find and engage untapped volunteer resources – individuals and businesses who have not yet been called on or motivated to act, without necessarily diverting them away from other important social priorities or our other work – untapped not because they are uninterested, but for lack of common interest at the finest level of detail.
We are often asked what relevance this magazine or that magazine will have in meeting child and family literacy needs. Some, like Highlights, or Ranger Rick, or Scientific American are obvious resources. But, how could a bowling magazine be of value or the trade magazine of the “American Pot Stickers Association?” It might just be that bowling magazine or that trade journal that can uniquely inspire the bond around a common interest between a mentor and a child learning to read.
So the risk of failure, and the possibility of diminishing returns aside, the chance to exercise any amount of previously untapped value trumps ignoring the possibilities.
Boston volunteer Katie Simmons – in her words – why we do what we do As we get ready to celebrate our 10th birthday – we want to tell the world about a very special person who has been the soul of our project for all these years. For years, Katie Simmons delivered thousands of magazines every month out of the trunk of her car to twenty homeless and domestic violence shelters in Boston. Her compassion and leadership set an example that kept our program alive and launched a thousand ships.
We are just getting started with the nonprofitforce application created by Salesforce.com. Our tremendous potential and power is driven by leveraging technology. Salesforce is the most incredible, flexible, robust tool I have ever encountered. We are already creating customized apps to fit our unique business needs. We thank Salesforce.com for their vision and generous support of the non-profit sector.
Education, literacy, and magazine leaders are marking the sixth anniversary of Children’s Magazine Month this October by mobilizing teachers, librarians, and school children, worldwide, to organize KinderHarvest magazine recycling projects to collect magazines for new readers. The magazines recycled by school children in their classrooms and school libraries will be given to other children and families in nearby homeless and domestic violence shelters, and to food pantries for distribution inside bags of groceries.
This letter that I received from the staff at the Boston Family Shelter demonstrates the value of the Magazine Harvest magazine recycling program. I am continuing my work to collect and deliver magazines to this program, as well as to a nearby Boys and Girls club and also to a program that has been helping the elderly for over 100 years.
Since Katie started dropping off magazines to our shelter the children really enjoy reading the magazines. When Katie stops by the shelter and drops off the magazines I put labels on them with the children’s name on them to make the magazines personalized. Katie thank you, for the labels. All the children love the magazines. Even though some of the children have moved into housing, they still come back to the shelter to look for the magazines.
There is a 9-year-old third grade boy that resides at the Boston Family Shelter. He was in the shelter for about 2 years. He has been reading below grade level for the past 2 years. He is an excellent reader, he just cannot comprehend what he reads. The first day this boy received his magazine, he said, “Wow!! Cool!!” He began to start reading as soon as he picked the magazine. I was so surprised to see him reading, because he always told me how much he hates to read. About two days later, he told me how he would read his magazine at school during quiet time, and he would let his friends read the magazines also. He reads to his 3-year-old sister more often, and now he is comfortable reading out loud.
The magazines have given this child more confidence. Before the magazines, he would skip over words instead of sounding them out. Now, when he reads, he sounds out the words. Even though he is going to summer school, his reading grade level for the last term went from a D to a B+. That is a great improvement.
The boy’s mother is extremely happy to see he is finally starting to read. Sometimes it is still hard to get him to read a book. When he goes to the library he takes out magazines.
This new beginning is a absolutely amazing for this child. We hope he will continue to improve the next school year. We at the Boston Family Shelter would like to thank Katie and all organizations that donate magazines to our shelter.
Boston Family Shelter
To celebrate International Literacy Day, an event that occurs on September 8th each year, and the start of the new school year, the Whole Foods Markets in Princeton New Jersey and Brighton, near Boston Massachusetts, will join with MagazineLiteracy.org to kick-off the KinderHarvest magazine recycling drive for literacy. These Whole Foods Market locations are the first in the nation to rollout a KinderHarvest magazine recycling drive year-round for children and families learning to read. Wooden harvest bins will be placed in the stores to collect the recycled magazines from consumers, which will be given to at-risk children and families in nearby homeless and domestic violence shelters, and delivered to families in grocery bags at food pantries.
By collecting magazines from those who love to read them and sending them to new readers, the effort combines a concern for environmental issues with a concern for literacy that is resonating with consumers and business owners alike.
KinderHarvest, the first effort of its kind, is like food gleaning, a practice that is thousands of years old, where crops left in the field are gathered by humanitarians to feed hungry people. Except, this harvest gleans magazines that would have ended up at the curb to feed children and families hungry to read and succeed, recycling the magazines we all love to meet local literacy needs. KinderHarvest combines the three R’s of education with the three R’s of recycling to promote the three R’s of magazine literacy: Read, Rescue, and Reuse.
One of the great joys of being involved with a project like MagazineLiteracy.org, because it is an ongoing, national, magazine industry-wide literacy campaign for children and families, is that it puts you on the leading edge of new phenomena. You can energize and drive fresh consumer behavior and trends. It’s both an opportunity and responsibility.
MagazineLiteracy.org launched the KinderHarvest program to collect recent copies of gently used magazines from consumers that are recycled to children and families – new readers in homeless and domestic violence shelters and other community programs. Hundreds of copies of magazines are collected each week in wooden harvest bins and in other ways in cities across the U.S., with efforts getting started from Boston to San Francisco and from Chicago to Dallas.
Those who love magazines, as I do, know that it is not uncommon to have collections of favorite titles that span many years. Whether it’s scouring Ebay for every issue of Wooden Boat magazine or adding to your collection each month every issue of Oprah magazine Martha Stewart Living, we have a love affair with our magazines. During the past couple of years, the Magazine Publishers of America, a steady partner and friend of our work, has celebrated this affinity with a marketing campaign that focuses on the powerful forces that “engage” magazine readers.
With KinderHarvest, we are noticing a phenomenon that builds on the tremendous personal value we place on our magazines – entire collections of magazine titles that span many years are showing up in our recycling bins at Starbucks and other locations. Consumers who could not bear to toss their periodical collections are willing to share them with others. This is a most precious act of kindness that further demonstrates the great value of the recycling channel that we have set up to connect communities of readers. The following note that I received today from a volunteer in Dallas underscores this wonderful trend:
Please let me know of any way I could help you in this project. I… have, many, many, MANY, magazines laying around the house.( Can’t throw ’em away…)
If you love your magazines, set them free, so others may learn and love to read them!
This story has been adapted from a news release issued by Northwestern University.
Low Literacy Equals Early Death Sentence
CHICAGO — Not being able to read doesn’t just make it harder to navigate each day. Low literacy impairs people’s ability to obtain critical information about their health and can dramatically shorten their lives.
A new study from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine shows that older people with inadequate health literacy had a 50 percent higher mortality rate over five years than people with adequate reading skills. Inadequate or low health literacy is defined as the inability to read and comprehend basic health-related materials such as prescription bottles, doctor appointment slips and hospital forms.
Low health literacy was the top predictor of mortality after smoking, also surpassing income and years of education, the study showed. Most of the difference in mortality among people with inadequate literacy was due to higher rates of death from cardiovascular disease.
“It’s a matter of life or death,” said David Baker, M.D., lead author of the study and chief of general internal medicine at the Feinberg School and at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “The excess number of deaths among people with low literacy was huge. The magnitude of this shocked us.”
“When patients can’t read, they are not able to do the things necessary to stay healthy,” Baker noted. “They don’t know how to take their medications correctly, they don’t understand when to seek medical care, and they don’t know how to care for their diseases. Baker thinks this is why they are much more likely to die.
The study was published in Archives of Internal Medicine July 23.
More than 75 million adults in the United States have only basic or below basic health literacy, according to the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.
“There is a certain minimum set of reading skills that are required to be able to do the things that you’re expected to do as a patient,” Baker said. “And if someone is below that level, bad things are going to happen.”
I stopped in for a cup of coffee at Starbucks today and already found wonderful magazine donations piling up in our wooden KinderHarvest bin, including Bicycle and Entertainment Weekly. Keep them coming and be in touch to set up KinderHarvest in your business, school, or town. The attractive wooden crates supplied by the Tri-State Crating & Pallet Co. are a perfect fit for our magazine collections and amazing to everyone I show them to. They are sturdy “harvest” boxes, but collapsible, making storage and shipping to KinderHarvest projects in other communities a snap.
Combining their well-known passion for environmental and literacy causes, Princeton area Starbucks are among the first consumer shops in the nation to rollout the KinderHarvest magazine recycling drive for children and families learning to read. KinderHarvest breathes a new life into magazines that would otherwise be discarded and destroyed by collecting recent, gently used copies and sending them to at-risk children and families. Wooden harvest bins have been set up at participating Starbucks locations where consumers can drop of magazines for all ages. The magazines will be delivered to children and families served by nearby homeless and domestic violence shelters, as well as in bags of groceries picked up at food pantries. KinderHarvest gets wonderful magazines into the hands, homes, and hearts of children and families who want to learn and love to read. The summer, when children are away from school, is the most important time to reinforce families reading together.
KinderHarvest is like food gleaning, a practice that is thousands of years old, where crops left in the field are gathered by humanitarians to feed hungry people. Except this harvest gleans magazines that would have ended up at the curb to feed children and families hungry to read and succeed, recycling the magazines we all love to meet local literacy needs. This first-ever program combines the three R’s of education with the three R’s of recycling to promote the three R’s of magazine literacy: Read, Rescue, and Reuse. So far, KinderHarvest has collected thousands of surplus magazines from publishers, and sent them to children and families served by food banks and to children rebuilding their young lives from Hurricane Katrina. This effort expands the KinderHarvest program to create a national model that engages businesses and consumers to meet literacy needs at their own grassroots community level.
I was caught off-guard a bit recently when someone asked about what magazines I like to read. Of course I have many favorites and always have. It’s fun to find them in the mailbox and I can’t pass a newsstand without stopping to see the latest issues.
It got me thinking, though, that I could do more to organize the kinds of magazine literacy projects that I am asking others to create in their own communities – to walk the talk. Moving magazines around from donors to new readers is heavy, hard work. It’s better to roll up my sleeves, and be able to say “do as I do,” rather than just “do as I say.” This also gives me a chance to learn first-hand about what works and what can use improvement.
So, I decided to organize a KinderHarvest magazine collection here in Princeton. Early in the morning, I stopped by a Starbucks that agreed to set up a magazine collection bin. The first lesson I learned from that is just how much interest there is in this idea of recycling magazines for literacy, and how easy it can be to get started. At lunch, I visited a favorite restaurant that always has great magazines in its well-appointed lobby to ask if I could pick up the ones ready to discard. At the end of the day, I visited a grocery store with a wonderful and growing magazine collection to ask about setting up a bin for recycled magazines from their shoppers.
During a few very receptive telephone calls to sign up food pantries and homeless shelters to receive the magazines, the director of an adult education program noted the types of magazines that would be most interesting and useful to her students. Our model has always been to defer to teachers and other literacy agents to define their needs, because they know them best. Our mission is to inspire and match new and gently used magazine donations to fill those needs. I know that the volunteers across the U.S. organizing KinderHarvest and other magazine literacy projects encounter this challenge every day. It just hit home that much more clearly to hear it directly from this local literacy leader.
So this reinforced in my mind the importance of having a way for literacy programs to indicate their magazine preferences – perhaps using an online form (now on the drawing board). It also underscores that it will be important to be able to sort magazines for delivery, so that all can be put to good use. I also developed sample letters that can be used by KinderHarvest volunteers in other communities to get their magazine collections started.
I a couple of days, I will pick up a batch of magazines and deliver a bit of “home” to children and families in a nearby homeless shelter. It’s a nice walk.
We now have two kindergarten teachers, Ron in San Francisco and Katie in Boston, organizing KinderHarvest efforts with or for their students, giving us coast to coast activity and representing the awesome power of single individuals who take it upon themselves to make a difference. The amazing thing as that each teacher jumped into action within 24 hours of getting in touch with MagazineLiteracy.org, and as you will see below, have put together comprehensive plans for finding lots of magazines to recycle for literacy. They are wonderfully relentless! Our Boston teacher has connected with another great KinderHarvest leader in Boston, Katie Simmons, forming a collaboration that is already fueling both their efforts.
I was recently asked if the Magazine Publishers Family Literacy Project was a person, who would it be?
I choose Robert Kennedy whose inspiration is a driving force for generations to come. It is a humanitarian choice about what he symbolizes as a person, not a partisan or politician, as so eloquently voiced by his brother Senator Edward Kennedy: My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world. As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:
Some see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not.
This is the essence of our relentless campaign to mobilize citizens, businesses, organizations, and schools, and other literacy champions to find and to feed the children and families hungry to read and succeed in their and our communities… to get magazines into the hands, homes, and hearts of our neighbors who what to learn and love to read.
With words worth a thousand pictures, we’ve hit on a powerful means to connect our literacy champions to the vast web of need and possibilities in every community across the U.S. by setting up their own Magazine Literacy Bee blog space on our MagazineLiteracy.org web site.