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A look back on 2016

Thanks to you, we celebrated RIF’s 50th anniversary, expanded our partnerships, paired up with celebrities, impacted over 1,400 communities and most importantly helped inspire millions of new RIF kids to become lifelong readers. Here are just a few of our favorite stories!

Power of Partnerships

Kids holding up 'Thanks' sign

This year we paired up with amazing companies to put new books into the hands of children who need them most. For the 13th year, Macy’s and its customers showed a commitment to literacy and RIF kids nationwide with a $1.7 million donation through their annual Thanks For Sharing campaign. Thanks to their generous support this year, over 325,000 children in 55 different communities were able to add a brand new book to their growing home libraries. Scholastic continues to show their commitment to literacy by partnering with RIF donating 50,000 books to bring new stories and adventures to kids in 2017. And UGI Utilities, Inc. proudly celebrated 25 years of bringing books and literacy activities to children across Pennsylvania through their partnership with RIF by distributing over 100,000 books to almost 33,000 kids, such as one special distribution which took place in the State Capital Building where they presented RIF with the Energy to Do More award!


Jordan Sparks reading

What would a 50th anniversary be without a party… or two… or three!? For this milestone, we went back to where it all began. State Farm presented RIF’s 50th birthday party at the site of one of our very first RIF programs, Amidon-Bowen elementary school in Washington, DC! Joined by our celebrity friends Jordin Sparks, Tray Chaney, and Tara Lazar, we kicked off our 50th year with music, read-alouds, book distribution and a $10,000 gift from State Farm to Amidon-Bowen to help stock the shelves in their school library. Actress Elizabeth Banks also stopped by this year with the National Endowment for the Humanities to help celebrate RIF’s donation of 3,000 new books to the new library at Moten Elementary School. Of course, we couldn’t leave our RIF families out of the celebrations! Pitney Bowes and the Pitney Bowes Foundation hosted a Family Literacy Night at the Stepping Stones Museum for Children in Norwalk, CT where more than 1,700 books and motivational activities were distributed to local families in need. Thanks to partners and supporters like these, we’ve been able to help over 40 million children celebrate book ownership over the past 50 years and will be able to continue to offer solutions that address the literacy crisis in communities across the U.S.

Spread the News

Screenshot from READ PSA

RIF worked to highlight the importance – and fun! – of literacy in 2016. In June RIF unveiled READ, a whimsical new public service announcement (PSA), designed to encourage everyone to discover the inspiration and imagination that happens when adults read to children. This PSA, gifted to RIF by Timber in honor of our 50th Anniversary, takes viewers on adventures built with cereal and bridges but found within the simple pages of a book. In September, RIF joined 25 other like-minded non-profit organizations during American Graduate Day on PBS to lend a voice to the daylong call-to-action to increase graduation rates. And in December, we provided tips and tools to keep kids engaged in learning over the winter break and beyond in USA Today’s Literacy in America issue.

But Most Importantly: Books!

Kids at book fair

RIF’s 50th anniversary would not have been complete without the distribution of books to children who need them most. The actions you took as RIF partners, volunteers and supporters helped us give 2.6 million more books – and smiles – to children throughout the country. We also brought 1.5 million free digital libraries into homes across the U.S. through a partnership with ustyme. Together, we’ve given millions of books to kids but there is still more work to be done. As we look forward to this coming year and continuing our work as a champion for children’s literacy, we are excited to work together to ensure every child has the opportunity to own a book, learn how to read and obtain the fundamental building blocks needed to achieve their highest potential.