THREE ORGANIZATIONS LAUNCH HISTORIC BOOK DRIVE FOR D.C. SCHOOLS TO CELEBRATE THE OBAMA INAUGURATION
"Reading Is Presidential" Campaign to Commemorate 44th President with Goal of Bringing 44,000 Books to the Nation's Capital
Washington, D.C. Jan. 7, 2009—Sallie Mae, the nation's leading saving- and paying-for-college company, along with Building Hope and Reading Is Fundamental, today announced a nationwide book drive -- "Reading Is Presidential" -- to celebrate the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. The goal of Reading Is Presidential is to collect more than 44,000 books for Washington, D.C. schools in honor of the historic election of the nation's 44th president.
"Access to books is crucial to developing readers," said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of RIF. "Research from the National Endowment for the Arts shows that there is a strong relationship between reading for pleasure and academic achievement. By providing D.C. children with books, supporters of 'Reading Is Presidential' can help form lifelong readers."
"For many of us, a weekend trip to the local bookstore brings new reading material for weeks, but for many elementary and high school students in our inner cities, this is not possible," said Jack Remondi, vice chairman and chief financial officer, Sallie Mae. "We invite anyone interested in enriching the life of a District of Columbia student, perhaps the life of a future presidential candidate, to consider donating a book to this worthy cause."
The nationwide book drive will benefit kindergarten through 12th graders at public, charter and independent schools in Washington, D.C. Inauguration attendees and others are urged to make a donation to RIF through the Reading Is Presidential campaign at http://donate.rif.org/presidential. Donations will be used to purchase new presidential-themed or classic books, as well as to support RIF's national mission.
"As a non-profit foundation dedicated to providing financial and service support to D.C. charter schools, Building Hope is delighted to mark this historic occasion by enriching the education resources of our community's schools and students," said Board Chair Marianne Keler.
According to the D.C. Comprehensive Assessment System (DC-CAS), District students are making strides in reading. Students showed improvement in reading at both the elementary and secondary levels for the 2007-2008 school year. Still, nearly 37 percent (170,000) of all District residents are considered functionally illiterate, compared to 21 percent nationally. In addition, two-thirds of American classrooms have fewer than 50 children's books, and almost 60 percent of childcare centers buy fewer than one book per child per year.
To learn more about the "Reading Is Presidential" campaign, please visit http://donate.rif.org/presidential.
SLM Corporation (NYSE: SLM), commonly known as Sallie Mae, is the nationÕs leading provider of saving- and paying-for-college programs. The company manages nearly $178 billion in education loans and serves 10 million student and parent customers. Through its Upromise affiliates, the company also manages more than $19 billion in 529 college-savings plans, and is a major, private source of college funding contributions in America with 9.5 million members and $450 million in member rewards. Sallie Mae and its subsidiaries offer debt management services as well as business and technical products to a range of business clients, including higher education institutions, student loan guarantors and state and federal agencies. More information is available at www.salliemae.com. SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
Building Hope: Founded in 2003 with a grant from the Sallie Mae Fund, Building Hope is a private foundation based in Washington, DC that works to close the educational achievement gap by giving students access to high quality public charter schools. We support the expansion of successful charter school organizations with the capacity to grow their enrollments in order to catalyze change across the public education system. Building Hope has worked with over  charter schools across the country and has helped finance approximately $200 million in charter school facilities.
Reading Is Fundamental, founded in 1966, motivates children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life. RIF's highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and U.S. territory, RIF provides 4.6 million children with 15 million new, free books and literacy resources each year. For more information and to access reading resources, visit RIF's website at www.rif.org.
SOURCE: Sallie MaeDiscover the Joy!