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Dollar General Literacy Foundation & RIF: Celebrating 16 Years of Impact

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and the Dollar General Literacy Foundation (DGLF) are proud to partner to ensure that children have access to new, high-quality books and literacy resources. For more than sixteen years, this partnership has helped thousands of children and families create home libraries.

Supporting RIF’s flagship program, Books for Ownership (BFO), the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has provided brand new, high-quality books for students in communities where Dollar General Distribution Centers are located. In 2005, the program began in 30 schools across five states with over 14,000 students having the opportunity to choose what they want to read. The BFO program relies on a simple yet fundamental truth: if you allow children choice and access, they will be more engaged in reading. Very early in the partnership, one of the schools supported by Dollar General, Hattie Cotton Elementary in Nashville, TN, expressed that “Many of our children don’t have home libraries. The RIF program gives them an opportunity to have books at home to read, which leads to a love of reading and an improvement in reading skills.” Research has shown that the number of books in the home has the highest correlation with graduation rates than any other factor – including education of parents, socioeconomic status, race or gender. DGLF and RIF share the fundamental belief that a book has the power to change the course of child’s future. Each and every book provided over the course of 16 years is an investment in the future success of the communities where they operate.

“Giving a child the opportunity to select their very own book that they are able take home and read with their family is an amazing gift,” said Denine Torr, executive director of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. “We are thankful for partners like Reading Is Fundamental to ensure that all children have access to print materials in their homes.”

Over the course of almost two decades, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation Books for Ownership program has expanded into 16 states across the country impacting more than 465,000 children and provided more than 1.5 million books for students to choose and take home. True to its start, the partnership continues to demonstrate DGLF’s commitment to the life changing power of literacy. Dedicated to ensuring children in all communities have the chance to succeed, DGLF has provided more than $4.1 million to support the Books for Ownership program.

In addition to the BFO program, the partnership has grown in other ways throughout the years to continue meeting the needs to students, schools and teachers. Some projects include:

  • In 2008, RIF and DGLF partnered to bring eleven free bilingual lending libraries to schools in New Mexico. Each school received a custom curated book collection, bookshelves, and literacy resource kits to meet the needs of the students and families served.
  • In 2017, DGLF supported the development of RIF’s Literacy Central mobile app; a free, online destination to provide literacy activities, resources, and support for parents, educators, and caregivers to take with them on the go to create a culture of literacy for their children. With the development of the app also came content development for 500 new book titles and 2,000 support materials added to Literacy Central that year. These resources are utilized by educators and families every day.

As we look forward to continuing our partnership in the future, we also know that this has been a challenging year for the students, families and teachers we serve through the Books for Ownership program. “A global pandemic disrupted much of the activity anticipated for last school year and continued to show signs of spilling over into the new year,” shared Alicia Levi, RIF CEO said, “fortunately, longstanding partners such as Dollar General continue to show us that commitment to children’s literacy is unwavering.”

Reading Is Fundamental is thankful for partners like the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and we look forward to continuing serving students, teachers and schools in the coming years!