-A A +A

BCC's First Book Initiative To Benefit Children In Need

First Book

With support from an alliance of education advocates, Burlington County College (BCC) unveiled today an initiative to distribute 40,000 books to children in need throughout Burlington County.

Working with N.J. Higher Education Secretary Rochelle Hendricks, John Harmon, Sr., President and CEO, of the African American Chamber of Commerce, and First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books and educational resources to kids in need, BCC students will coordinate efforts to distribute free books to schools and organizations serving communities in need throughout Burlington County.

The college is the first in the nation to build this effort into its English and Service Learning curriculum.

“Every child should have books to read at home,” Burlington County Freeholder Joe Donnelly said. “Burlington County College will be a model for the rest of the nation on how students and community groups can get books to children who need them.”
First Book is part of an education initiative by the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey called “Making New Jersey More Competitive.” The goal is to develop and strengthen the marketable skills of future job seekers throughout the state. First Book will help achieve this goal by delivering new, high-quality books and materials to children in need in Burlington County.

“This is one of a number of initiatives by our organization that will provide an immediate impact in transforming the lives of our young people and place them on a path of success,” said John Harmon Sr., President and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce.

Rochelle Hendricks, New Jersey’s Secretary of Higher Education, wants the initiative to succeed and spread throughout the state.

“What a wonderful project! Student volunteers will help distribute 40,000 new books to open worlds of ideas for disadvantaged children,” said Secretary Hendricks. “I am very pleased that Burlington County College is collaborating with First Book and the African American Chamber of Commerce to stir the imaginations and build the literacy skills of children throughout Burlington County.”

The initiative is an important part of BCC’s new Student Success division and agenda aimed at helping more students complete college and reducing the number of students who enter college in need of developmental courses.

“We believe all students can succeed with the right approach,” BCC President David C. Hespe said. “The simple act of giving children books will make them stronger readers and develop a lifelong passion of learning that will help them succeed throughout their education and career. This is also a tremendous opportunity for our students to participate in a worthwhile and rewarding project.”

First Book President and CEO Kyle Zimmer said the initiative will instill leadership skills in current BCC students and improve educational opportunities for children in need.

“No one understands the transformative power of education better than community college students,” said Zimmer. “We’re thrilled that Burlington County College is stepping up to transform the lives of kids in need in their community with brand-new books. Those 40,000 books are going to help turn a lot of children into readers.”

The project will span the entire 2013-2014 Academic Year. Students will identify and contact potentially eligible groups and encourage them to apply to First Book. This spring, a truck will deliver 40,000 books – with a retail value of nearly $400,000, donated by publishers – to BCC’s Mount Laurel Campus.

Students will sort the books and distribute them to groups that meet certain criteria, such as serving disabled children, military families or a large number of low-income families.

For more information on First Book, visit www.firstbook.org. Organizations interested in applying, should contact BCC’s Service Learning Program at servicelearning@bcc.edu.