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2016 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Bess the Book Bus Inc

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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

49 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 hugs4chris

Donor

Rating: 5

Bess the Book Bus is an amazing literacy outreach organization that provides books to children. I've seen first-hand the enthusiasm for reading as well as the joy that this program brings to children of all ages. We've provided hundreds of books to Bess over the past few years and will continue to do so. Please keep up the great work you are doing!

2 Adrienne16

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I've seen the great people at this nonprofit at work several times, and they are doing great work! I always look forward to seeing them at community events, or even once-just seeing the Bus out on the road. Seeing the Bus on its way to an event really brightened my day, because I knew they were out there to do something wonderful. The world needs a whole fleet of busses like this-keep up the good work!

2 Pam_129

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have never seen my students more excited than when Bess the Book Bus came! They couldn't believe that they got to pick out ANY book they wanted! Books that they probably wouldn't be able to get any other way! Bess the book bus is an amazing program that does so much good for so many!

2

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have had multiple interactions with Bess and the love the comes flowing out of this organization is amazing. They have helped educate and open doors (minds) of children all over that otherwise would not have ever had the opportunity. Bess is changing the world and our future 1 child at a time. Keep up the great work.

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.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Bess is so much more that the gift that she obviously is. The opportunity to read allows not only one to temporarily travel to another time and place, but the opportunity for growth. Books are not cheap and many people can't afford them. Many times Bess gives children the first book they have ever owned. This resource is not only s physical gift but an emotional one as well. We couldn't thank Jennifer and Bess enough for blessing out school and community!!

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 Freda Horne R.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A book opens the door to a new world. It allows us to reimagine our circumstances, to test our personality and our ideas. It makes us who we are, a self that continually develops and gains definition through reading.
One thing that soon becomes clear in Reading is that a humanist love of letters has, for most of our history, been the exception rather than the rule.
The reader would be able to roam about everywhere,thinking for himself and forming his own judgements.We should have a sense that reading and writing threatened extant authority by granting people excessive freedom, cultivating a consciousness of alternative, future possibilities, Bess the Book Bus has a belief in the power of reading, its ability to allow us to reimagine our circumstances, to test our personality and our ideas.What’s very interesting is that the early critics of reading picked up on the fact that reading provides people with a gateway to a different moral world, where alternatives can be countenanced. And therefore reading always poses a threat to the prevailing order.A child that can own a book something to call their own.and learns to read.Has endless opportunities.When you can read you can take so many journeys.Vacations you cannot afford, you can travel where you heart want to take you.Bess The book Bus does that for children and adults.In these time no one should be illiterate,But sadly many are.Bess The Book Bus search the people out and helps them own a part of themselves.Yes ,we have libraries,you may check a book out.But many cannot even afford the I.D. needed for such.a simple thing.I co-wrote a book called Bess The Book Bus with the intent for anyone to understand how valuable the program is for our youth as well as our older adults.I think we all need this to continue.

2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I love witnessing this organization in action, whether I'm right there where the action is going on, or I am following the Bus on its journeys via social media. The smiles on the faces of the children who leave the bus, books in hand, speak volumes about the good work (and love) that comes of this program.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am the Executive Director of Boards for Bros - a non-profit dedicated to giving the gift of skateboarding to underserved youth. We have had the privilege of working with Bess the Book Bus on numerous occasions and we have seen the transformative impact that her presence has had on the communities that we serve. We have witnessed first hand Bess' visitors faces light up and focus as they lovingly carry their books and sit right on the sidewalk and start reading. Bess reaches the kids that need to be reached and gives the gift of reading and is a direct demonstration that someone cares. Jennifer and her volunteers are completely dedicated to reaching every kid she can. We strive to work with Bess as often as we can. The world is a better place because of Bess, Jennifer and her volunteers.

2 megant87

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Bess the Book Bus has helped mold the lives of many children by making books accessible to all. Reading is an essential part of developing and Jen has been committed to making sure EVERY child has an opportunity to fall in love with a story. Jen and Bess set out on many journeys throughout the year and cover thousands of miles from coast to coast for the opportunity to read and put a new book in a child's hand whom without Bess may not ever have the opportunity to fall in love with that fresh smell of a new book. The response she gets from the children and parents is heartwarming and keeps Bess and Jen pushing for the next opportunity. Bess is a non profit that we need in every community!!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Bess the Book Bus is an amazing nonprofit. Jennifer Francis does a wonderful job of bringing the love and importance of reading to children around the country. She started this organization with her own hard earned money because she felt a deep gratitude towards her grandmother, the Bess that the bus is named after, for instilling in her a love of reading. Through her grandmother she learned how very important it is that ALL children have the opportunity to to have something so important in their lives. I hope to see Bess continue her journey across this country helping children and playing a part in shaping the future.

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 Christine187

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Great way to spread knowledge. Keep up the great work

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As an early childhood educator in a school serving students from ages 3 yr old pre k through 5th grade, we strive to immerse our students in literature in our classroom and at home. Providing our children with wonderful books they can have in their hands at home is invaluable. Our school population represents a culturally and ethnically diverse lower economic community where items such as a new book or access to a variety of books can be limited. Having Bess the Book Bus and Jenn Frances visit our school has given our students an amazing opportunity to select their own special book, one that appeals to each student, as unique as they are. Seeing the children carefully and thoughtfully search for that one special title that grabs their interest is a joy to see. Jenn herself connects with each child, offering ideas and encouragement to find the one special book that will draw them in. Each child comes away with a treasure in hand, their smiles and their appreciation in being given a book of their own speaks volumes. Seeing them quickly move to find a place to bury their noses in their new book is so inspiring as they sit on the sidewalk or grass nearby, unable to wait to open the cover. We look forward to having Bess the Book Bus return to our school again soon to continue sharing the love of reading with our students and their community. I cannot imagine a more worth cause than to support literacy and reading.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Giving to Bess The Book Bus is almost in my genes. Both of my parents are children's book authors having published hundreds of titles. We toured book stores, international children's book festivals, and libraries around the world growing up; all to encourage the joy and a lifelong love of reading in children. I had the pleasure of meeting Jenn at the Blue Ridge Leadership Institute's annual convention in Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee as she generously supported the Youth Leadership Academy with a visit with Bess the Book Bus. I am in awe of her commitment and clear sighted goals for children's literacy! This is the best program I have given to all year!!

1 Marion H.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

What an inspirational person for both children and adults. She has took a dream from her childhood and made it come true. She has this gift inside her that comes from her heart. Her Love for others, and her love of reading. She has made this happen. Her passion shows in her interaction with children. She put a lot of hours and dedications to keep this company going. Our Children at our Early Childhood program just Love Bess the Book Bus and Ms. Jen.
Ms. Jen has been a big part of our program for many many of years. Always with a smile. She takes the time to reads to every age group, has the talent to keep their interest. There little feet march to the Big Bus with their happy smiles. The joy in their faces as they are able to get on the bus to pick out that special book. She has build a many of home libraries for our little ones and encouragement she gives to the parents to keep this going. This program is an amazing gift to all whom comes in contact with Best the Book Bus. A gift of hope, kindness, love and the amazing gift of site for some, when she teams up with the Vision Screening. I just can not say enough positive things that I have seen first hand. She is what this country needs more of. This program makes a big difference, one book and one child at a time.

3 connielvnhgn

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I connected with Bess the Book Bus for the first time through First Book, many years ago. Her charity was still in its infancy but Jenn's commitment to bringing the love of literacy was very apparent. It amazed me how she moved mountains and braved thousands of miles in order to bring books to my school in Oregon. She's been to many more of my schools as I've moved around (I'm an elementary Literacy Coach). I host her at my home and it's always such a pleasure!

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Bess the Book Bus and Jennifer Frances have visited all the schools that I've worked at in the past 8 years. She has given away close to probably 1,000 books in 3 schools in which I have taught. She does more (almost single-handedly) than some larger organizations. She is extremely accommodating and flexible when it comes to scheduling. My schools have been so appreciative to have her support and generosity. We love Bess & Jenn!

1 Lorin O.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Jennifer and Bess the Book Bus do amazing and important work, bringing the love of reading to poor and under-served communities. She is truly inspiring.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering for Bess the Book Bus was wonderful! In 11 days I helped hundreds of kids pick books, and every one of them left the bus excited to read!