In 1992, while practicing law, I co-founded First Book, a non-profit market-driven social enterprise that furthers equal education. By aggregating the collective voice of educators at schools and programmes serving children in need, First Book drives access to and the creation of affordable, relevant new books and educational resources designed to remove barriers to learning. First Book's work has been recognized by the Library of Congress, the National Book Foundation, the National Education Association Foundation, the Yale School of Management, the Ms. Foundation, the Goldman Sachs Foundation, and others. Member of the Board: Dr. Seuss Enterprises; Ashoka; Youth Venture. Former Member, World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Values. Presenter and/or participant at the World Economic Forum in 2019, 2014, 2012 and 2010; also featured at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America in 2015.
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- First Book
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- Hybrid Social Enterprise
- Areas of Impact
- North America, USA, Canada
A non-profit social enterprise, First Book uses market forces to address the systemic barriers to quality education for children in need. The organization's self-sustaining models harness the collective voice and purchasing power of educators serving the poor, turning this previously fragmented group into a force to drive the critical resources most needed to fuel learning and advance education for children (ages 0-18) growing up at the base of the economic pyramid.
First Book operates in the US and Canada and has worked in more than 30 countries. The First Book Network numbers more than 375,000 classrooms and programmes, with 1,000 new educators joining each week, including preschool and afterschool programmes, homeless shelters, food banks, clinics – anywhere that serves children in need. First Book's models include: First Book National Book Bank – an online platform annually offering over 10 million donated new books for kids in need, for only the cost of shipping and handling; First Book Marketplace (FBM) – a revenue-generating ecommerce site offering over 6,000 titles, school supplies, items of basic need, digital learning content and e-devices at the lowest costs possible; First Book Accelerator – a system that identifies critical issues facing educators serving children in need and supplies them with necessary tools, reducing the usual 20-year implementation delay into mere months, making leading research available and actionable; First Book Insights – providing aggregated data and research revealing unique insights from educators dedicated to children in need.
First Book has released findings on critical children's health and social issues impacting learning. These insights advance the field through research and analytics that focus investment. Educators report that First Book: provides resources where there were none before; helps them reach more children in need; increases interest in reading; and helps close the achievement gap. In addition, First Book's collaborative, cross-sector partnerships are providing much-needed funds and resources to create equal access to quality education, transforming the educational environment. First Book has provided over 175 million books and resources. In 2016 alone, First Book distributed educational resources valued at more than $135 million. The organization is 50% self-sustaining.