MONARCH — The more than 400 students attending Monarch Elementary School recently had the opportunity to get the books of their choice thanks to Dollar General and the Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) program.
In a statement released earlier this week, MES Principal Anita Maness announced that the school had held its third RIF program of the 2015-2016 school year this past Friday. As with the other RIF programs presented at the school over the last seven years, Friday’s RIF program allowed the school’s students to each select a book to take home with them and keep.
“Every child in our school, which is 467, gets books,” Maness said Monday. “They each receive three a year of their choice. They get to choose the books they like.”
Maness said the school hold three RIF programs each school year, many of them near the holidays. Maness said the school holds the book distributions near holidays such as Halloween and Valentine’s Day to provide students with an extra treat that ‘s educational. She said Friday’s book distribution was the final one for this school year.
The school’s participation in the RIF program is made possible by Dollar General which awards the school approximately $7,000 a year to help it acquire books for the students. Maness thanked Dollar General for its generosity to the school and its students.
“Reading is one of their main focus areas,” Maness said. “We appreciate everything they have done for us over the years for reading for students.”
Founded in 1966, RIF is the largest nonprofit literacy organization in the United States with a total of 400,000 volunteers from across the country. The organization provides 4.5 million children with 15 million books and a growing number of literacy resources each year. Its main priority is providing books for underprivileged children ages birth-8.
All RIF programs combine three essential elements to foster children’s literacy: reading motivation, family and community involvement, and distribution of free books directly to children. RIF and its programs are funded by a combination of public and private funding sources including the U.S. Department of Education, corporations, foundations, community organizations, and thousands of individual donors.
RIF had its genesis in the experience of Margaret McNamara, a former school teacher who in 1966 brought a bag of used books to four boys in Washington, D.C., who she was tutoring in reading. McNamara told the children they could each select a book to keep and their astonishment and delight at this led her to discover that her students, along with many of their classmates, had never owned any books. That summer, McNamara gathered a group of school volunteers who launched RIF on Nov. 3, 1966. Initially, RIF was a pilot project at three Washington, DC elementary schools but by the early 1970s was providing books to children in a total of 60 of the city’s public schools.
In 1975, the U.S. Congress created the Inexpensive Book Distribution Program (IBDP) which provides federal matching funds to sites that qualify for RIF’s national book program. Today, through its contract with the US Department of Education, RIF operates IBDP — supplemented today with private funds — in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. RIF is also affiliated with programs in Argentina and the United Kingdom.
Since 2004 RIF has been the national philanthropy of Kappa Kappa Gamma, a national women’s fraternity. Together, Kappa and RIF have developed the “Reading Is Key” program, through which the 140 Kappa Chapters collect a combination of book donations and money raised through philanthropic events to donate to RIF.
RIF’s flagship service is Books for Ownership, which also supplies children with free paperback books. It also offers several special literacy services which, in addition to supplying the services of the Books for Ownership program, target their efforts to specific age groups or populations. RIF serves children at a wide range of venues, including schools, libraries, childcare centers, Head Start programs, parks, community centers, health clinics, migrant camps, and domestic shelters.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or email@example.com.