July 17, 2017 – Mayor Byron W. Brown today accepted 6,500 books, valued at $98,000, for distribution through the 16th Annual Mayor’s Reading Rules! Summer Reading Challenge. The books were donated to the program by The Teacher’s Desk, in partnership with National Grid.“This is a very generous donation that will get new books into the hands of thousands of local children and teens. These titles range in cost from $10 up to $20 each, which is out of the financial reach of many of the families whose kids participate in my Summer Reading Challenge. For many of our readers, owning a brand new book is a big deal,” Mayor Brown said. “Thank you to The Teacher’s Desk and National Grid for this fantastic donation.”The Teacher’s Desk, which is donating all 6,500 of the books, is no stranger to putting educational materials and supplies into the hands of Western New York teachers whose students come from families that can’t afford school supplies. Since it was founded in 2011, The Teacher’s Desk has distributed more than $10 million in supplies and books to teachers serving 120,000 students from 230 schools.Some 6,000 area teachers “shop” at the organization’s facility, located at 22 Northampton Street in Buffalo, annually, where they can select up to $1,000 worth of free school supplies and books.John Mika, a retired autoworker who became a substitute teacher, founded the nonprofit organization after seeing how many students lacked even basic supplies, like pencils and paper, and noticing how many teachers were reaching into their own wallets to purchase supplies for students in need.“The Teacher's Desk is thrilled to partner with Mayor Brown & Reading Rules! through our sponsors Feed the Children & National Grid to distribute 6,500 new Disney Books, as a portion of the 200,000 books our teachers take to their students in need each academic year, because after all Reading Rules!,” Mika said.This marks the second year National Grid has made a donation to the Mayor’s Summer Reading Challenge as part of its local community resource initiative.“National Grid has always made commitments to education,” said National Grid regional manager Ken Kujawa. “And as we look for new ways to partner with those in the neighborhoods we serve, we’re grateful to be part of this unique opportunity to build a stronger community through collaboration and cooperation with Mayor Brown’s office and The Teacher’s Desk.”
The 6,500 books include: two titles for early childhood students, five titles for primary students, and five for Middle and High School readers. The first group of books will be distributed on Wednesday, July 12th, as part of National Summer Learning Day, which will take place at Canalside.
Mayor Brown, who has been passionate about literacy throughout his career, established the Summer Reading Challenge while serving as a State Senator.
“Not only is Literacy imperative to the children and adults of our city to expand their knowledge and understanding of society, it is a valuable tool to help propel the evolution of Buffalo’s foreign-born newcomers and emerging refugee populations, which in turn, enriches all. Expanding and deepening literacy is critical to my mission to make Buffalo a place of opportunity for all, where no one is left out and no one is left behind,” Mayor Brown said.
In its first 15 years, nearly 14,000 local students have earned the title of “Champion Reader” by completing the challenge. It’s expected more than 2,000 local students will become Champion Readers this summer. They will be rewarded with hundreds of prizes – everything from bikes to PlayStations to educational scholarships -- at the 2017 Reading Rules! Celebration, which will be held Saturday, August 26th, at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.