The closing of schools and the interruption in learning presents an opportunity to provide books and engaging reading for youth in their homes. While some Oakland kids are at home surrounded by high-quality books and plugged into an array of engaging online learning apps, this is far from the reality for all. Although tech and distance learning are being rapidly expanded, many students still lack consistent access. For example, it’s common for a single device to be shared by several family members who need it throughout the day. Online learning also presents unique challenges for younger students who need more assistance with the technology and whose caretakers may be attending to other pressing responsibilities in response to this crisis.
To meet the needs of Oakland youth, the OLC developed the ‘Keep Kids Learning’ project. A book distribution program with the goal of providing books and reading guides to kids in grades K-12. Book bags will be distributed alongside the school meals and other “grab and go” programs across the city that meet parents where they are already receiving other services and will observe safe social distancing protocols. We also work with charter schools, early learning centers, and community-based organizations to distribute books. Book bags are boxed by the OLC and shipped to the agreed-upon locations where pre-screened volunteers operate a drive-through book distribution where families can pick up grade-level appropriate bags. Many of the participating schools and community-based organizations are partners who previously participated in our annual Family Reading Celebration mini-grants program which was paused with the outbreak of COVID-19.
We are now in the midst of our fall distribution as requests for books continue to flood in from schools and community organizations we work with, so our team is working hard to raise funds and organize additional distributions to meet this need.
Funded by Oakland, CA (December 2020)