2020 Grants Challenge

Transforming School Libraries in Low Income Neighborhoods

Idea by Access Books

We transform dilapidated school libraries in L.A. Since 1999, Access Books has donated well over 1.7 million books to over 300 school and community libraries. We serve schools with a high population of children receiving Title I funds in underserved communities such as Watts, South Central, Compton, parts of the Valley, downtown and East Los Angeles. We donate thousands of books and paint literacy themed murals for each school as well as donate reading furniture and rugs.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

Central LA

East LA

San Fernando Valley

South LA

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

20 different schools - not selected yet.

What is the need you’re responding to?

Access Books addresses the urgent need for inner city and underserved children to have access to plentiful reading material. Research indicates that the best predictor of reading ability is access to books, and in poverty neighborhoods, the quality of the school library is the primary resource for foretelling reading ability and achievement. For decades in California, school library funding has been ignored, resulting in neglected and pitiful libraries. Many schools have books that are outdated (books from the mid- 20th century with Caucasian characters only), tattered and dull. Many children in low income areas do not own books in the home and the public library may be too dangerous to get to alone (or closed on a Sunday when they could go with their families.) Access to books must come from their school libraries. In order for children to do well in school, they must read well and to read well they must read a lot.

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

Access Books fundraises to buy plenty of brand new, hard cover, high quality, culturally relevant, popular books that students want to read. We match community groups together to transform libraries on Saturdays. An affluent school does a book drive for a recipient school and together both communities work side by side shelving books and painting murals. People of all ages are brought together around the love of books.

By making sure that children in low income neighborhoods have plenty to read, we're helping them become better readers. And when children read well, they do better in school.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 20,000

Indirect Impact: 2,000

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

The broader goal is to support childhood literacy in Los Angeles so that all children, regardless of their socio-economic status, can do well in school, graduate, compete for higher paying jobs, go on to college, and become leaders in their communities

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

We measure success by how many times our books get checked out, how many books total get checked out, how children feel about reading, and how their performance in school improves.

Which of the LEARN metrics will your submission impact?​

Student proficiency in English & Language Arts

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?​

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Host public events or gatherings

Communications support

Office space for meetings, events, or for staff