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Founder's Message

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Chapter One of Book Harvest’s story began in 2011. The setting was a dusty garage filled with donated books, and the cast of characters was small…just a handful of quirky dreamers eager to join me in unlocking book ownership and a love of a good story for children in Durham, North Carolina.

From those humble origins, Book Harvest’s story has been written with a momentum I could have never imagined. From a grassroots effort fueled by volunteers, to an ever-growing team of 19 professionals; from a handful of book provision events throughout the community, to hundreds of bookshelves brimming with books in homes, classrooms, and doctors’ offices, on street corners, at bus stations, and in laundromats; and from a few boxes of donated books in a garage, to more than 1.6 million books harvested by children and families – books they have taken home to read again and again, theirs to keep forever.

 

In 2021, Book Harvest concluded its first chapter – our first decade – with a rich and effective portfolio of programs dedicated to transforming children’s literacy. 

 

In our home community of Durham, we have forged an ecosystem of robust and resilient children’s literacy, fueled by our dream of books for every child and support for every parent, starting at birth, and by a passion for helping every community build a culture of childhood literacy. It is spectacular to witness. And, fortified by all that Durham has taught us, it is time to grow.

In 2022, as we launch our second decade, we are laying the groundwork to expand our organization – and our impact – beyond our flagship community of Durham, NC.

NOW is the time for Book Harvest to do the hard and essential work to transform children’s literacy across the state of North Carolina and beyond. Now more than ever – when less than half of all U.S. children who live in poverty enter kindergarten ready to learn, and when book ownership is not within reach of every child – it is an imperative to bring what we know to other communities.

We are beginning to write Chapter Two of Book Harvest’s story with three shimmering – and achievable – dreams:

  1. Books for every child.

  2. Support for every parent.

  3. Literacy for every community.

We stand in awe of every child’s innate brilliance and boundless potential. It is a privilege to work alongside parents to unlock opportunity for their precious children and to ensure that every child everywhere has what they need to thrive in school and in life.

Children are our future. And every child deserves to grow up in a home rich with books, words, vocabulary, stories. We intend to be there for them, with an abundance of books and literacy support, as they write their stories. I hope you’ll join me.

With gratitude and hope,

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Ginger Young
Founder and Chief Executive Officer

February 2022

P.S. If you were a part of our first chapter, thank you! And as we embark on our second decade, we need you now more than ever!

Give books.

Volunteer with us.

Run a book drive.

Donate funds.

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Tell your friends.

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Our History

2011

  • Book Harvest is founded! Working out of Ginger Young's garage, an army of volunteers makes it possible for children to harvest 36,594 books in our first year.

2012

  • First MLK Day Dream Big Book Drive at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill.

  • Books on Break launches.

2013

  • Book Babies launches.

  • Book Harvest's Authors' Circle is established.

2015

  • Our first external evaluation, with Duke University's Center for Child and Family Policy, begins.

2016

  • Parent Advisory Teams are formed.

  • We launch our Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors initiative.

  • A child harvests our 500,000th book!

  • Donations exceed $1 million.

2017

  • We begin offering Pre-K/K transition coaching to our Book Babies families.

2018

  • A reader harvests our 1,000,000th book!

  • The first Book Babies graduation ceremony is held.

  • Book Babies expands to Forsyth County

  • Books on Break expands to all elementary schools within Durham Public Schools.

2019

  • A Randomized Control Trial evaluation of Book Babies begins with HighScope Educational Research Foundation.

  • We launch Laundromat Literacy.

2020

  • We expand our space to 10,000 SF with a Rapid Response Center to keep books flowing despite the challenges of the COVID pandemic.

  • We establish the staff-led Harvesting Equity Project to chart our path to becoming a more anti-racist organization.

  • We receive the 2020 Library of Congress Best Practices Literacy Award.

2021

  • Book Harvest celebrated our tenth birthday!

  • Book Boxes begin popping up around Durham

  • We launch Bright Futures, our CSA program for Book Babies families.

  • Our Summer Block Party hosted over 2,000 attendees on the American Tobacco Campus.

  • We hosted our first national research briefing.

  • Our two-site longitudinal study of Book Babies was concluded with the release of a randomized control trial evaluation report.

2022

  • Ginger Young becomes Chief Executive Officer and prepares for expansion.

  • We hire Tabitha Blackwell as Executive Director of Book Harvest Durham, allowing us to expand throughout North Carolina and beyond.

  •  “In Their Own Words: Parents’
    Voices About a Book-Provision Program” by Book  Harvest’s  Meytal Barak and Dr. Cristina Gillanders of UC Denver was
    published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Early Childhood Literacy. 

2023

  • 2 millionth book provided!

  • Book Babies reaches record enrollment in Durham.

  • Book Harvest Durham unveiled the county's very first Storywalk.

  •  Jeff Quinn was appointed Chief Operating Officer.

  • George Biddle, Mallory Mbalia, Joe Waters, and Keenan Szulik joined the Board of Directors.

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