Dallas — “Once upon a time …” Many children hear, then, read this as the introduction to a magical story that unfolds on book pages. But what if you couldn’t read the other words on the page or the characters in book bore no resemblance to you or your friends?
The North Texas Ford Dealers and Ford Motor Company Fund rolled out the second phase of the Ford Driving Dreams education initiative with a donation of 10,000 new books to children in need across North Texas through a partnership with First Book, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books and educational resources to kids from low-income families. This brings the Ford community investment in North Texas to nearly $2 million since the Ford Fund and area Ford dealers launched their unique collaboration in 2013.
“We are very excited to help inspire the love of reading among young students,” said Sam Pack, chairman of the North Texas Ford Dealers. “Through our innovative partnership with the Ford Fund, the North Texas Ford Dealers continue to accelerate educational achievement in the neighborhoods where we operate, from Dallas to Palestine.”
The announcement took place during a reading party in the Cesar Chavez Learning Center on the eve of El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros (Children's Day/Book Day), which is a celebration of children, families, and reading that culminates every year on April 30. Ford employees, Ford Dealers and First Book representatives participated in reading activities with the school’s third graders and donated a new book to each of them. Students were given the opportunity to choose between “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shell Silverstein or “Dairy of a Wimpy Kid” by Jeff Kinney.
Joe Avila, manager of community relations of Ford Motor Company Fund, who was in attendance, said, “Our goal is to be an active participant in the success of our communities. What better way to do this than to promote literacy among our children, especially as they enter the summer break, a time when reading levels drop due to the lack of access to books. The partnership with First Book is an important component of the education efforts we launched with our dealers at the beginning of this year.”
This initiative is part of the overall education efforts of Ford in North Texas and focuses on promoting reading at an early age. According to the American Educational Research Association, the ability to read by the third grade determines a child’s future. Yet, research shows that in some of the lowest-income communities, there is only one book per 300 children. The 10,000 new books will be distributed by the end of the school year to children attending nearly 100 schools serving low income communities in multiple school districts across North Texas.
“Having books at school and at home is one of the biggest predictors of a child’s success in school,” said Kyle Zimmer, president and CEO of First Book. “And together with Ford we’re helping level the playing field for kids who too often go without the critical books and educational resources they need to read, learn and succeed. We’re proud to join Ford and its North Texas dealers to provide new books to kids in North Texas and look forward to our continued work together to improve lives in the communities in which they operate.”