First Book

At a Glance

National Office: 
1319 F Street, NW Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: 202-393-1222

Kyle Zimmer
People Served: 
3,000,000
Year Founded: 
1992
Tax ID: 
52-1779606

Focus area(s):

Early Education
K-12 Reform
After-School & Out-of-School

Description

First Book tackles a pervasive and entrenched issue impacting more than 32 million children in the U.S. and Canada:  the scarcity of books, learning materials, and basic need essential for children growing up at the base of the economic pyramid. Through unprecedented innovations and partnerships with publishers, corporations and nonprofit networks, First Book increases access to quality books and resources for children in need,  providing the wealth of knowledge they need to read, learn and succeed.

 

Since 1992, First Book has provided more than 150 million new books to its fast-growing network of more than 275,000 educators and community program leaders serving children from birth through high school. By making new, high-quality books and essentials available to them on an ongoing basis, First Book is transforming lives and ensuring that every child enjoys equal access to a quality education.   In the next decade, First Book will continue to scale its self-sustaining distribution engines, while also exploring innovative opportunities in the realms of digital resources and global expansions.

Impact and Outcomes

Of the 16 million children living in poverty in the U.S., two-thirds of them do not have any books in their homes
80% or more of First Book’s educator members agreed with the following statements : “The access to books from First Book ensures I can help close the achievement gap for the kids I serve” “After distributing books from First Book, I saw an increased interest in reading among the kids I serve” “Without First Book, the kids in need I serve would have very few or no new books” “The access to books from First Book helps me be the best educator I can be”
Studies show that giving kids access to books may be one of the most overlooked solutions to helping ensure kids attend school with the tools they need to succeed.
First Book’s network currently serves more than 275,000 educators, an estimated 20% of the market of educators serving children in need. The network has grown over 500% in the past 5 years and continues to grow at a consistent rate of 5,000 new members each month.

Mission & Goals

At First Book, we envision a world in which all children have equal access to quality education. To this end, we amplify the voices of educators serving low-income children and partner with industry leaders in order to provide affordable, sustainable access to the  educational resources they need to succeed in school and in life.

Through the First Book network serving 275,000 educators, program leaders and other professionals serving kids and families in need, we have an unprecedented opportunity to aggregate the needs, challenges, insights and collective buying power of this massively under-served community. Educators know best what their students need to thrive, and First Book is committed to making their voices a guiding force behind its current work and future expansions. Based on direct feedback from our members, First Book has expanded our product offerings beyond books, and now offers an array of other products such as hands-on learning tools and basic need items including dental care, shower kits, and health & first aid kits.

Program

First Book helps educators address two key factors in providing children with access to the tools they need to learn – affordability and relevance. First Book has pioneered two innovative, sustainable distribution channels that provide deeply discounted books and educational resources to programs and classrooms serving children in need.

The First Book National Book Bank, launched in 1998, distributes in-kind inventory from publishers to schools and programs that serve children in low-income families.  Educators select books that are most appropriate for the students they serve, and often send books home with students so they can create personal libraries of their own. By recovering excess inventory that would be otherwise destroyed, and redistributing these resources to schools and programs in dire need, First Book has created a sustainable model with expansive impact and reach.

First Book is building a new economy for the base of the economic pyramid by aggregating buyers and social enterprise suppliers through the First Book Marketplace, an innovative social enterprise that offers high quality books and educational materials at 50-90% off retail. This award-winning e-commerce website offers a range of free and low cost resources that meet the expressed needs of educators in our Network – including more than 5,500 titles, educational games, technology, apps, DVDs, non-perishable food, coats and other critically important items that children need to learn and thrive. In addition, First Book recruits purchasing power from the private sector and philanthropic foundations to make resources on the Marketplace even more affordable.

Through these combined distribution channels, First Book provided more than 15 million resources to children in need in 2015 alone and is poised to scale in the years to come.

First Book also works to improve the relevance of content available to low income children through the Stories for All ProjectTM. This groundbreaking First Book program addresses the long-standing lack of diversity in children’s books and provides children withaccess to books that better reflect their unique cultures, communities, and experiences. By leveraging the market-power of its Network, First Book has engaged publishers to introduce special edition paperback versions of titles that represent the stories and experiences of all children and to bringnew authors and illustrators of color to market.

Impact

In 2015 First Book:

•       Provided more than 15 million books and educational resources to children in need.

•       Served 218,000 members and 5.5 million children were served across the country, in every U.S. state and over 30 countries.

•       Welcomed 60,000 new educator members into its network. The network grew 40% over the previous year.

•       Printed 60,000 copies of children’s books featuring diverse voices and experiences available for the first time in affordable paperback formats. 45% of our most popular titles now fall within the Stories for All ProjectTM, our initiative to increase diverse voices and promote inclusivity in children’s literature.

•       Announced its participation in a White House ConnectED Initiative called Open eBooks. Major publishers are providing $250 million worth of eBooks including 10,000 of their most popular titles. The is available exclusively to First Book members and more than 2.7 million eBook codes have already been requested for students.  

•       Launched a project to redesign the First Book Marketplace (www.fbmarketplace.org). The First Book Marketplace provides ongoing access to affordable, high-quality, new books and learning materials specially-curated to address the needs of children from low-income families. The retooled website features powerful search and navigation functions, expedited processing speed, shared knowledge from educators regarding how they use First Book resources and specially-curated collections on popular topics such as family engagement, character development, health and wellness.

•       Won the prestigious David M. Rubenstein Prize, awarded to an organization that has made outstanding and measurable contributions in increasing literacy levels and has demonstrated exceptional and sustained depth and breadth in its commitment to the advancement of literacy.

Growth Plan

First Book is in the process of scaling a number of initiatives that further our mission and directly respond to the needs we are hearing from educators around the globe.

•        First Book Research- Given the size and engagement level of our network, First Book has a unique opportunity to contribute to the understanding of educational needs, challenges, and solutions that promote educational equity for kids in need.  In partnership with preeminent leaders in market research, evaluation, and data analytics, First Book is designing the future of this new component of our work.  First Book regularly utilizes a range of tools to inform the resources we offer and our outreach techniques to reach educators.  Some examples include formal studies, Marketplace polls, member focus groups, cluster analyses for market segmentation based on demographic and psychographic profiles, and heat maps of market need vs. market penetration.  With additional investment in infrastructure, First Book is poised to take this work to scale and offer opportunities for the field to better understand the voice of this underserved population reaching children in need.

•        First Book Digital– Demand for digital resources on the Marketplace is growing rapidly.  First Book recently conducted a study of digital resource needs in partnership with the Joan Ganz Cooney Center.  Insights from the study call for First Book to develop a comprehensive digital strategy to meet the multifaceted needs of our members.  Our vision is to build a digital “support ecosystem” that will include components integrated via the First Book Marketplace as a hub: content; curation; delivery; hardware; internet access; training and support.  While this vision is infinitely achievable as it builds on First Book’s existing infrastructure, brand equity, capabilities and reach, in this ever changing digital age, it is imperative that First Book pilot aspects of this strategy and iterate along the path forward to allow for heightened responsiveness and adaptability.  First Book will work with a blue ribbon panel of experts and partners, such as Common Sense Media, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, the New America Foundation and others to help curate the resources in response to Network need. 

•        First Book Global Marketplace– First Book is preparing a major scaling initiative that builds upon our experience in distributing books to more than 30 countries through the Global Marketplace.  Our efforts will support and elevate the work of organizations working to reach critical populations including women and girls, young children and refugee populations with books, educational resources, and basic need items.  With investment to support our strategy, First Book will: conduct a survey of educational resource needs of the top 100 organizations serving women and children in need; build in-country relationships with publishers, print on demand vendors, and eBook providers to deliver culturally relevant content; and continue to build-out our infrastructure and logistics capabilities to further expand our reach globally.

Location of Sites

National Office: 
1319 F Street, NW Suite 1000
Washington, DC 20004
Phone: 202-393-1222
List of locations

To make a contribution to a program site:

  1. Click on the "Make a Contribution Now" button and include the name, city and state of the program you would like to support, in the "notes" text box on the organization's donation form, if available.
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Locations in the following states:

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Financials

Most Recent Budget

Year Ended:

2014

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$7,200,000
Foundation Grants: 
$300,000
Government Funding: 
$0
Contributions from Individuals: 
$1,200,000
Special Events: 
$0
Program Services Fees: 
$12,600,000
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$0
Other Revenue: 
$85,000,000
Other Revenue (Description): 
a) In-Kind Book Donations to First Book, with an estimated value of $85MM for FY2012; b) Donated warehouse facilities for 2012, estimated at $300K for FY2012. Additional note: Other Earned Income includes revenues from Non-Profit Partners for Marketplace and Book Bank activities for $5.15MM in 2012
Total Revenue: 
$106,300,000

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$8,200,000
Occupancy: 
$500,000
Travel & Entertainment: 
$300,000
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$200,000
Telephone & Communications: 
$100,000
Payments to Affiliates: 
$0
Other Expenses: 
$96,200,000
Other Expenses (Description): 

a) In-Kind Book Donations to First Book, with an estimated expenditure value of $85MM for FY2012;  b) Donated warehouse space, estimated at $300K for FY2012;  c) Cost of Purchased Books, order fulfillment, shipping costs, and related expenses for the First Book Marketplace and National Book Bank; estimated at $6.8MM for 2012

Other Expenses (Description): 

Total Expenses: 
$105,500,000

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain/Loss: 
$800,000

Prior Year Actuals

Year Ended:

2013

REVENUE

Corporate Grants: 
$6,054,000
Foundation Grants: 
$267,000
Government Funding: 
$0
Contributions from Individuals: 
$781,000
Program Services Fees: 
$11,321,000
Membership Dues: 
$0
Other Earned Income: 
$0
Other Revenue: 
$86,436,000
Other Revenue (Description): 
a) In-Kind Book Donations to First Book, with a value of $87.7MM for FY2011; b) Donated warehouse facilities for 2011, valued at $325K for FY2011. Additional note: Other Earned Income includes revenues from Non-Profit Partners for Marketplace and Book Bank activities for $4.1MM in 2011.
Special Events: 
$0
Total Revenue: 
$104,859,000

EXPENSES

Salaries, Related Salaries & Professional Fees: 
$7,008,000
Occupancy: 
$432,000
Travel & Entertainment: 
$331,000
Office Supplies, Printing, Postage: 
$160,000
Telephone & Communication: 
$99,000
Payments to Affiliates: 
$0
Other Expenses: 
$87,022,000
Other Expenses (Description): 

a) In-Kind Book Donations to First Book, with an expenditure value of $81.7MM for FY2011;  b) Donated warehouse space of $325K for FY2011;  c) Cost of Purchased Books, order fulfillment, shipping costs, and related expenses for the First Book Marketplace and National Book Bank; total of $5.1MM for 2011

Total Expenses: 
$95,052,000

NET GAIN/LOSS

Net Gain / Loss: 
$9,807,000

Major Funders

Disney

KPMG

Pizza Hut

dd’s DISCOUNTS

Molina Healthcare, Inc.

Pearson Foundation

Penguin Random House

CBS EcoMedia

Pi Beta Phi Foundation and Fraternity for Women

Target

Tata Group

Wipro Ltd.

WWE

TD Bank