Pi Beta Phi® Fraternity for Women donated 5,000 brand-new books to area nonprofits with literacy programs serving children from low-income families who were affected by Hurricane Harvey. For many of these students, these are the first new books they have ever owned and are the first step to creating a lifelong love of reading.
Houston was chosen as the book donation location because it is an area of great need. Since Hurricane Harvey made landfall last August, it has caused $125 billion in damage in the greater Houston area. Many families lost everything and were forced to live in temporary or makeshift housing, without power or water for some. The cleanup and rebuilding process is a multi-year project for the millions of people affected by the catastrophic storm.
Hurricane Harvey affected SMART Family Literacy because many of the families it serves lost their homes in the unprecedented flooding caused by the storm. The group immediately began emergency relief efforts by bringing donated books to relief centers throughout the metro area. The books were a welcome distraction for the families and children who waited in line for resources for several hours each day. Today, the group’s book supply was replenished thanks to Pi Beta Phi.
“It means a lot to our children when they receive a brand-new book, especially a hardcover book,” said Elizabeth Turner, SMART Family Literacy Founder and Executive Director. “We know that having books in the home is an important prediction for a child’s achievement level when they grow up. Once you convert a child to be a reader, you can’t keep them away from reading.”
Pi Beta Phi is helping put books into the hands of these deserving children in partnership with First Book®, a nonprofit providing new books to its national network of schools and programs. Over the past several years, Pi Beta Phi has donated well over $1 million to literacy causes through The Literacy Fund at Pi Beta Phi Foundation, given more than one million books to children in need and impacted over one million lives through its philanthropy Read >Lead > Achieve®.
“Our Fraternity of more than 300,000 women is united in the cause to promote the importance of reading,” said Pi Beta Phi President Paula Shepherd. “According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, one in four children grows up functionally illiterate, and we believe that is one too many. Pi Beta Phi is thrilled to participate in this book donation because we believe reading transforms individuals, creates leaders and is the foundation of all that we can achieve in life.”
To learn more about the Houston area recipient groups who received books from Pi Beta Phi, please see below.
Houston Recipient Groups
- Browning Elementary Dual Language and Global Academy, part of the Houston Independent School District
- YES Prep Brays Oaks, part of an open-enrollment public charter school system serving students in grades six through twelve in underserved communities
- Sheldon Independent School District, which provides personalized learning opportunities to ensure all students graduate college and are career ready
- SMART Family Literacy, which is dedicated to education for young children and their families through innovative, hands-on activities in science, math, art, reading and technology
- Catholic Charities of Corpus Christi, Inc., a multi-program agency serving more than 100,000 persons of diverse racial and ethnic characteristics, experiences and occupations
Additionally, Pi Beta Phi donated books to recipient groups in the Miami-Dade County area in response to Hurricane Irma. Information about those recipient groups are found below.
Miami-Dade County Recipient Groups
- Morningside K–8 Academy, an international education language magnet school
- Community Healing Project, Inc., a nonprofit created to rebuild and reestablish economic, education and health awareness in urban communities
- United Way of Miami-Dade, which partners with hundreds of individuals and organizations to complete work in education, financial stability and health for children and families
- Miami-Dade County Public Schools, which is the fourth largest school district in the U.S. comprised of 392 schools, 345,000 students and more than 40,000 employees
- Hispanic Unity of Florida, which serves diverse and multi-cultural working families by providing wrap-around services for clients ranging in age from preschoolers to adults
About Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women: Founded in 1867 at Monmouth College in Illinois, Pi Beta Phi has installed 205 collegiate chapters and nearly 300 alumnae clubs worldwide. Pi Beta Phi promotes friendship, develops women of intellect and integrity, cultivates leadership potential and enriches the lives of members and their communities. The Fraternity believes in the power of reading and through its philanthropy, Read > Lead > Achieve, promotes a lifelong love of reading that can unlock true potential. Our charge is for each and every Pi Beta Phi to find a way they can participate, donate or advocate for Read > Lead > Achieve. For more information, visit www.pibetaphi.org
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