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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Libraries, Literacy, Primary & Elementary Schools, Remedial Reading & Encouragement, Special Education

Mission: Bess the Book Bus helps to close the literacy gap created by poverty by building home libraries and excitement for reading in over 25 states across the USA each year. We visit Head Starts, schools, after-school programs and community centers where we read aloud to our kids and give them the opportunity to choose their own new books. We build home libraries and a love for reading in our most underserved communities by making the joy of book ownership a reality for our kids. Bess the Book Bus volunteers and board members envision our hometown of Tampa Bay as one where all of our children have access to the basic resources they need to be successful in school and later in life.

Results: Bess has given away over 500,000 books in 48 states.

Target demographics: Bess the Book Bus is building home libraries and a love for reading across the USA.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 25,000+ kids in over 100 towns across the USA.

Geographic areas served: Bess travels into schools and community centers in underserved neighborhoods across the USA conducting read-alouds and letting our children choose new books to take home and keep. Bess partners with school districts, Head Start facilities, homeless and domestic violence shelters, and community action groups with the mission of elevating and inspiring the imagination of children while giving them access to book ownership.

Programs: Some examples of our 2015/2016 outreach include: BBB partnered with CITGO's Fueling Education and 101.5 Miguel Show's Book Adventures at four area schools. Each student received new books to take home and keep. Holly and Miguel from 101.5 read to the kids and CITGO provided each school with a $1,000 grant. Bess' partnership with the Rays allowed us to give all 1812 School District of Hillsborough County Head Start program students two new books to take home and many of the students received three books. Bess worked with Pi Beta Phi to deliver 1,000 books to local Title 1 Schools as part of their Day of Service. Bess worked with Altrusa International Tampa Bay, the Spurlino Foundation and Publix Super Markets Charities to give books the 21st Century iClass Program at seven schools (Maximo, Melrose, New Heights, Fairmount Park, Campbell Park, North Shore and Lakewood Elementary). These are the schools listed in the Failure Factories articles in the Tampa Bay Times. Bess made 3+ visits to each school site iClass and adjacent YMCA or R’Clubs throughout the year, building home libraries and generating excitement for reading. Bess was was recognized by 21st Century iClass at the Pinellas County Schools annual volunteer recognition breakfast for this collaboration. Bess worked with Florida Impact, a statewide anti-hunger organization focusing on increasing participation in child nutrition programs. Bess made repeat visits at their Hillsborough County BreakSpot sites providing free books to the families attending the lunches.

Community Stories

11 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Layla3

Client Served

Rating: 5

What a near and dear to my heart organization!!! EVERYONE needs to read and best to get started young. Thank you for all that you do. You touched my son and we can't thank you enough for you generosity and kind loving spirit.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Before the children board Bess the Book Bus Jennifer reads them a book piquing their interest just a bit. Then as the children board Bess she asks if they have a special interest such as dogs,cats, or sports. However they respond Jennifer comes up with the perfect book. She might ask them if they have a favorite author again the ultimate book is passed to the child and the look of joy warms the heart. Jennifer is amazing and is doing what makes others happy, therefore making her happy how many people can actually say their job makes them that happy. Bless Jennifer and Bess the Book Bus.

1 Josh36

Client Served

Rating: 5

Jennifer and Bess have brought joy to our students who don't live in houses full of books! Seeing our students enter a bus full of books and come out with a smile is amazing! This is an amazing way to encourage students from all walks to read! Now let's get her bus souped up, funded, filled with new books and ready for more meaningful journeys!

1 Betsy C.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have had the extreme pleasure of knowing Jenn and Bess the Book Bus for over 20 years. She has faithfully come to my school to place books into the hands of students who truly need them the most. My school serves many hard working families that struggle to supply the basic needs for a home. Unfortunately, books and home libraries become a luxury instead of a necessity in these households. Thanks to Bess the Book Bus, our students are able to experience the joy of choosing their very own book for free and the pleasure of taking it home to keep. You can not erase their smiles as they step off Bess the Book Bus holding their new book! Jenn always shares a book with our students in
a read aloud, and her passion for books is infectious! The kids just love to hear that she has scheduled a visit at our school! This mobile literacy program is a miracle in my eyes! Thanks to Jenn and Bess for their love and dedication to our students!

1 Elaine64

Client Served

Rating: 5

Bess the Bus has visited West Tampa Elementary numerous times, Each time Jenn visits she shares a READ Aloud story and then each student gets to board her MAGIC Reading Bus and choose their own book to take home and read. The Kindergarten students talk about her kindness and her visits for days afterwards . These students often come from very low income families and love that their child can start building their home library with each visit from Jenn and Bess the Bus. All you need to do is the faces of these students after a visit (The smile goes from ear to ear ! )

1 Mandj H.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We look forward to Bess The Book Bus' return to downeast Maine every year!! Jen is a delight and remembers (how I dont know!) book conversations she has had with my kids from year to year. They talk about the book bus for weeks before she arrives and for weeks after. I cannot even begin to express how much Jen has encouraged and helped my kids' love of reading. As a homeschooling mom this is incredible, but as a person who loves book and loves to see kids' faces light up when they discover the magic between the pages, the work Jen is doing with her book bus is priceless and incredible.

Jeanne49

Client Served

Rating: 5

Having Bess the Book Bus visit is the highlight of our summer reading program. Love to see the smiles on the faces of the kids as they are allowed to pick out their own book to read. Many of them can't wait until they get home and will sit down and start reading right in the parking lot!! In addition to the individual books for children, teachers and librarians that need books are also welcomed. Thank you Jennifer and Bess the Book Bus for helping to spread the joy of reading and a love for books!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

We began working with Bess the Book Bus in 2011 and have always had incredibly positive experiences. The look on the kids' faces when they realize that they get to pick out and KEEP their own book melts my heart every time. There is NO ego involved in this organization. The founder does this all for the kids and is 100% committed to serving as many kids as possible -- even when that means driving for hours and giving up some personal comforts. I can't recommend Bess the Book Bus enough.

1 Amy_296

Client Served

Rating: 5

Bess the book bus is a blessing for so many children. She brings access of the love of reading to schools and children that are thirsty for books, but may not have the means to purchase books. As a teacher I've seen the delight first hand when my students picked out their very own book!!! The best part is they get to escape whatever they may be facing, often times poverty and other challenges that go along with it, into a world of reading!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

I give away books on the school bus I drive in the San Francisco Bay Area. Bess met with me on her National Tour and generously donated several boxes of appropriate books for me to give as I do, to individual students on a day-by-day basis, as well as GREAT picks of hers for me to pass on to a couple of local after-school learning programs. She is a passionate promoter of love of literacy. Her enthusiasm and dedication are infectious, her generosity of time, energy and resources inspirational. I can't think of a better way to allocate your donation dollars than to Back the Bus!

Review from Guidestar