A nonprofit helped Franklin County Public Schools kick off its school year recently by delivering 1,000 take-home books to kindergartners and preschoolers.
Cummins Leadership Foundation is based in Maryland. But its founder and president, Whitney Cummins, is a Franklin County native. Her organization aids literacy efforts in schools in rural areas.
Students will be able to pick their own book from the donation, made to all 12 elementary schools in the county. Each school will hold book celebration parties with superhero masks, a photo booth and snacks.
Any leftover books will be donated to classrooms for students to use throughout the year.
Franklin County Director of Curriculum and Instruction Brenda Muse said giving new books to the students makes for a good start to the school year.
“Sometimes, you take for granted that many of our students have exposure to books at home,” Muse said. “For every pre-K and kindergarten kid to get a book, it’s exciting.”
Cummins said her foundation bought the books with a matching grant from another nonprofit, Reading is Fundamental.
The foundation, created in 2017, mostly helps school systems in rural Appalachia but works in other areas as well, Cummins said. Other examples of the foundation’s work include a backpack drive in rural Maine.
At least one-third of the books donated to Franklin County have minority characters, and another third have female protagonists. Cummins said it’s important to promote diversity in children’s literature.
Cummins said she houses books in a storage unit and makes deliveries in a spacious minivan.