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14 Reputable Charities for Writing & Literacy

Writer's Digest is joining in the spirit of Giving Tuesday by creating a directory of literacy and writing charities that promote reading and writing across the world.
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Giving Tuesday began in 2012 as a way to counteract the overwhelming consumerism we experience on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Writer's Digest is joining in the spirit of the season by creating a directory of literacy and writing charities that promote reading and writing across the world. If you value the advantages you've experienced as you've developed your writing skills, consider giving to one of the organizations below for Giving Tuesday.

(Note: We've found that all of the following literacy charities have a good reputation and meet US accountability standards, but we encourage you to do your own research as well to ensure that the organizations meet your own standards and align with your values before donating. and the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance are two great resources for researching the reputability of charities.)

1. ProLiteracy Worldwide

About: ProLiteracy, the largest adult literacy and basic education membership organization in the nation, believes that a safer, stronger, and more sustainable society starts with an educated adult population. For more than 60 years, ProLiteracy has been working across the globe to create a world where every person can read and write. Our vision is for every adult to have the ability to fulfill his or her life through literacy. About 36 million adults in the U.S.—and almost 800 million worldwide—struggle with basic reading, writing and math skills. These individuals struggle to read a menu, fill out a job application, or read a bedtime story to their children. ProLiteracy removes the hurdles that stand in the way of their goals.

2. 826 National

About: Founded in 2002 by internationally acclaimed author Dave Eggers and award-winning educator Nínive Calegari, 826 Valencia inspired a network of creative writing and tutoring centers now seven cities strong: San Francisco, Ann Arbor/Detroit, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C. The 826 National office was established in 2008 to serve the growing educational network by providing strategic leadership, administration, and other resources to ensure the success of the 826 network.

3. InsideOUT Writers

About: The mission of InsideOUT Writers is to reduce the juvenile recidivism rate by providing a range of services that evolves to meet the needs of currently and formerly incarcerated youth and young adults. Using creative writing as a catalyst for personal transformation, these young people are empowered with the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully re-integrate into our communities, becoming advocates for their future. InsideOUT Writers (IOW) was founded in 1996 and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 1999. IOW grew out of the vision of juvenile hall chaplain, Sister Janet Harris, former Los Angeles Times journalist, Duane Noriyuki, and several other professional writers who volunteered to teach creative writing to youth incarcerated in Los Angeles County’s Central Juvenile Hall.

4. Literacy, Inc.

About: Literacy, Inc. (LINC), founded in 1996, is based on two beliefs: all children can read given enough one-on-one support and every neighborhood has strengths and resources that can be coordinated to support early literacy. LINC works with communities to: develop a dynamic and sustainable network of community activities that achieve unified literacy success; help organizations, community leaders and others to understand the many ways they can support young children as readers; encourage families and other community members to be increasingly engaged as reading partners to young children; create a perceptible shift in the community belief that all its neighborhood children will read on time with community support; and ensure a literacy rich community that will contribute to the success of children entering school by ensuring that they are ready to learn and read on time.

5. United Through Reading

About: The mission of United Through Reading is to unite military families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud together. In 200 locations worldwide on land and at sea, United Through Reading offers military service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading books to their children at home.

6. Book Trust

About: At Book Trust, all our work revolves around a single, sad fact: There are thousands of children in America who would like nothing better than to read, but have no books. We empower kids from low-income families to choose and buy their own books, all through the school year. And our focus on book choice and ownership is no accident. Studies show that children are much more likely to read books that they choose, and having books at home brings proven benefits. Best of all, our approach really works. Over a school year, the percentage of Book Trust students reading at grade level jumps from 31 percent to 59 percent.

7. First Book

About: First Book is a nonprofit, social enterprise that provides new books, learning materials, and essentials to children in need. First Book has distributed nearly 150 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. First Book's membership of more than 250,000 teachers and program leaders is the largest and fastest growing network of educators serving children from low-income families. By making new, high-quality books and essentials available to them on an ongoing basis, First Book is transforming lives, so that every child can have equal access to a quality education.

8. Books For Africa

About: Founded in 1988, Books for Africa (BFA) collects, sorts, ships, and distributes books to children in Africa. Our goal is to end the book famine in Africa. Books donated by publishers, schools, libraries, individuals, and organizations are sorted and packed by volunteers who carefully choose books that are age and subject appropriate. We send good books, enough books for a whole class to use. Since 1988, Books For Africa has shipped more than 35 million books to 48 African countries. They are on once-empty library shelves, in classrooms in rural schools, and in the hands of children who have never before held a book. Each book will be read over and over again. When the books arrive, they go to those who need them most: children who are hungry to read, hungry to learn, hungry to explore the world in ways that only books make possible.

9. Developments in Literacy

About: Developments in Literacy (DIL) launched in 1997 by Pakistani-Americans with a desire to improve the dismal state of education in Pakistan's underdeveloped areas. DIL currently operates and manages 120 schools with an enrollment of nearly 21,000 students. DIL is dedicated to providing quality education to disadvantaged children, especially girls, by establishing and operating schools in the underdeveloped regions of Pakistan, with a strong focus on gender equality and community participation. DIL establishes, adopts and manages primary and secondary schools for underprivileged children in partnership with non-governmental organizations in all four provinces of Pakistan. In addition, DIL directly operates community schools in Punjab and Sindh.

10. Home

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About: Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school, no matter their family’s income. Dolly’s home state of Tennessee pledged to pursue statewide coverage in 2004 and global expansion was on the horizon. After the United States, the program launched in Canada in 2006 followed by the United Kingdom in 2007 and Australia joined in 2013.

11. Make Way for Books

About: The mission of Make Way for Books is to give all children the chance to read and succeed. In 1998, Make Way for Books' founder Dr. Mary Jan Bancroft answered a newspaper listing to read to four-year-olds at a preschool in Tucson. Mary Jan found that this center did not have age-appropriate, quality picture books. Deciding to explore this need further, Mary Jan found that most of the childcare centers serving economically-disadvantaged children had few to zero quality books for young children. That same year, Mary Jan founded Make Way for Books (MWFB) to meet this incredible need and began providing books to under-resourced sites and offering early literacy workshops for educators and parents. Today, MWFB has provided services to nearly 300 preschools and childcare centers. Each year, MWFB serves more than 30,000 children and families and 700 educators.

12. Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy

About: FFCL was founded in 1999 to address the growing problem of children from low-income communities entering kindergarten without basic early literacy skills and school readiness, a preventable problem that has far-reaching impacts throughout students’ lives. The recipe for early school success is simple: start school with strong literacy skills. FFCL’s recipe for encouraging early literacy development is even simpler. Ensure that children have developmentally-appropriate books in their home and provide parents with supportive material that reinforces the importance of early learning and encourages them to read frequently with their children.

13. Literacy for Incarcerated Teens

About: Literacy for Incarcerated Teens, Inc. (LIT) is the only non-profit organization of its kind working to end illiteracy among New York’s incarcerated young people by inspiring them to read. LIT makes it possible for school libraries serving New York’s detained and incarcerated youth to acquire new books and other library media at a rate three times greater than that of school library allocations received from State and City funding.

14. National Book Foundation Programs

About: The mission of the National Book Foundation and the National Book Awards is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America. Our BookUp program is an after-school program designed to motivate young people to stay involved with books and reading for pleasure throughout their middle-school years, with the hope they will develop into lifelong readers. The program introduces activities that emphasize reading as both fun and interactive. We have chosen to focus on middle-school students because studies show that this is the age when children are most at risk to stop reading.

Do you know of any other charities that should be included in this list? Let us know in the comments below!

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