(Buffalo, N.Y.) — Public school districts in Buffalo often face a challenge promoting literacy to children who have sometimes have trouble being successful academically.
The situation can be even more difficult when school systems have limited resources to provide textbooks and other reading material to their students.
Thus, the non-profit group Project Flight is working to promote literacy in western New York.
The group, which was established in 1993, works with students, parents, educators and community groups to help children gain access to reading material and live in a literate environment.
“For us the social issue of illiteracy is monumental,” said Dr. Betty Cappella, co-director of Project Flight and professor of non-profit management at Buffalo State.
“When you (consider) 90 percent of the world’s population who are impoverished are those individuals are women with children. We think literacy is a tool to get people out of poverty.”
Buffalo is ranked third in the nation in poverty and 54 percent of children are impoverished.
“Our mission and vision is that every child will be able to have a book and read it at grade-level. That children that live in a literate environment, either at home or at school, and that literacy will be an entrée out of poverty, especially here in Buffalo and the western New York area,” said Cappella.
The Project Flight Book Bank collects and distributes hundreds of thousands of books annually to students from pre-K through high school.
“We’re experts in child development and literacy and so we take the books, organize them according to age level and organize them according to subject matter,” said Geraldine Bard, co-director of Project Flight and professor of English at Buffalo State.
Bard said the group analyzes the content of the donated books, looking for inappropriate or sensitive material, before distributing them to students.
Additionally, Project Flight holds the Books for Kids program every year, which collects books and distributes them to schools, libraries and other organizations.
Organizers say the hope the projects will encourage a love of reading and build a foundation for children to always have a book within reach.