Help me find a literacy charity
March 17, 2014 4:33 PM   Subscribe

I need to donate money to a charity which has improving literacy as part of its mandate, and need to choose a charity.

I'm a publisher, and about 15 months ago I published an anthology for which I pay royalties to the contributors. To save myself having to perpetually send out checks for like $1 for potentially forever as the sales drop off, I put a clause in the contract that if the author's share of royalties drops below $5, I can donate to their payment to a charity instead. Up to now, sales have been robust enough that I haven't needed to worry about that clause. The charity has to have a mandate of furthering public literacy. I'd combine all the Reach Out and Read, First Book, Discover Books, and Reading is Fundamental. I'm leaning towards that last one since CharityWatch gives them an A.

But I'd really like to hear if anybody has experience with any of them or opinions on how they operate/which will do the most good with the money I donate.
posted by joannemerriam to Work & Money (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I can't tell you how much I love Reading is Fundamental. As a child, RIF day was my favorite day of the school year. As a parent, I was the RIF volunteer at my daughter's former school. Free books for kids. Nothing but awesome. The selection of books was excellent, by the way. Quality YA, not eight million surplus copies of Underwater Basket Weaving or anything like that.
posted by Ruki at 4:52 PM on March 17, 2014

I don't know if this is close enough to literacy to fit the bill, but I can tell you that the CCBC has a vital role in monitoring and increasing access to quality children's books, emphasizing diverse portrayals whenever possible. Walter Dean Myers' article in the NYT cited them specifically. That's a pretty huge need.
posted by Madamina at 5:00 PM on March 17, 2014

If you would like to help a small charity with a strong local impact, consider the Durham Literacy Center. They focus on improving adult literacy in the Durham, North Carolina area, which is a shockingly prevalent issue. They also help these individuals meet their personal goals, like obtaining their GED or getting a job or getting a hold of their personal finances.
posted by krakus at 5:34 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Open Books in Chicago is wonderful.

Open Books is a nonprofit social venture that operates an extraordinary bookstore, provides community programs, and mobilizes passionate volunteers to promote literacy in Chicago and beyond.

Their store is lovely, and they do good work. They're really engaged with the communities where they work.
posted by bibliogrrl at 6:21 PM on March 17, 2014

Best answer: Seconding a plug for the Durham Literacy Center, in part because the impact of a few dollars here and there will be much greater in a community based organization than a national one. The DLC has been consistently recognized for their service to the community. They provide a range of educational services, inlcuding Adult Basic Education, English as a Second Language, GED program for high school students needing an alternative setting, and basic language & literacy for refugee immigrants.

Full disclosure: I'm one of their former AmeriCorps members, later a Family Literacy Instructor for a community partnership with a non-profit bilingual pre-school. I still volunteer from time to time at their tutor trainings.

Thanks for supporting literacy!
posted by Schielisque at 7:08 PM on March 17, 2014

Best answer: I got the chance to evaluate charities for a large corporation related to literacy. While we supported 3 at the end, I was really impressed by how far First Book made their money go and how they treated it as if it were their own. Reading is Fundamental was very good too.
posted by Gucky at 7:09 PM on March 17, 2014

Response by poster: Oh, I used a less-than sign (after I'd combine all the) and lost that sentence... Oops. Sorry.

This is very helpful, all. Thanks so much!
posted by joannemerriam at 10:39 AM on March 18, 2014

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