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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

50 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Bess the Book Bus is unique because she travels all over the country sharing the valuable lesson of a love of reading with folks from all over America. Such a well done valuable service. Love it.

2 Ellen83

Donor

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure of watching Jennifer Frances and Bess the Book Bus in action here in Maine. Her annual visit to our local EduCare center is always a high point of my day. Watching several hundred children each choose a book for their very own is a joy. Jennifer is wonderful with the children, guiding them to books that appeal and are appropriate for their ages. I've also gone to several other sites where Bess was parked (a small public library and a local bank) to watch the magic happen. I feel privileged to be able to donate advanced reading copies to Jenn each year so that she has more books (and a wider variety) to offer older children. Her mission to spread the joy of reading is one of the most amazing charities I know. Truly grassroots! With very little money she makes magic happen!

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 Shirley Q.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Bess the Book bus does something nothing else can, it brings the joy of reading, it fights illiteracy by giving children books, books that teach, books that inspire, books that open up new worlds and build imaginations. There are thousands of happy and thankful children in our country who now have a book to call their own thanks to Jennifer and Bess.

Amy_297

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to volunteer many times for Bess the Book Bus. Watching what Jennifer does first hand is a magical, inspiring and heart warming experience. I must admit that I've had to hide my tears on that bus a few times when i watch child after child light up when they realize that this brand new book that they have chosen is there's to keep! Jenn is a brilliant story teller, an amazing woman and has created such a wonderful non-profit company. Bess is the little bus that could. I can't imagine a child not owning a book. Jennifer not only makes that happen but through her fantastic story telling, she encourages a natural love for reading. Go Bess!

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

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Bess the Book Bus came to our town and had event at the Boys and Girls Club--after a darling little girl got off the bus, she asked very timidly--"Can I really keep these books?" The kids were thrilled to get the books and Jennifer helping them pick out just the right book to interest them. She isprovidint such a wonder resourse to area without book mobiles or easy access for these kids to get to a library. All the children and parents are grinning from ear to ear-it's like Christmas for them! And the parents are thrilled to see their children get a book of their own. Cannot say enough great things about this organization--I just hope she continues her outreach!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Bess donated over 100 books to Pepin Academies annual Camp-Read-A-Lot. The children were thrilled with the opportunity to be able to take home a book of their very own. In addition, Jen was a pleasure!

Review from Guidestar

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My 13 year old son was given a Gift Certificate through Bess the Book Bus and Transitions for an eye exam and glasses. As a parent, you want your child to succeed and exceed in school and eye sight and literacy go hand in hand. Because of the G.C my son was able to get glasses and confidence. In return for the G.C my son wanted to volunteer with Bess The Book Bus and give back in some way for the glasses. He went out to the Transitions Golf Tournament in Tampa and volunteered. He came home a changed boy! He said to me," mom seeing those kids so excited about getting a book to read was overwhelming! I saw myself in each one of those kids, and to be able to put a smile on all those faces was the most amazing feeling I've ever had! Bess The Book Bus is way more than just a bus or a person giving books away. It's touching each and every spirit in those kids and giving them happiness that maybe they haven't had in a while." I've never seen my son so moved. He wants to volunteer as much as possible through the summer. Thank You Bess for touching my life and my son's life in a way that neither of us had experienced!

Review from Guidestar

Concetta P.

Donor

Rating: 5

My name is Concetta M Payne author of four children's books. One is very dear to my heart "Bess the Book Bus Book" co-authored by Freda Roberts. We are dedicated supporters of Bess the Book Bus, Inc. With Jennifer E Frances' endorsement our book was created. Townsend Press is a major sponsor of Bess the Book Bus, Inc. When he received a copy of our book he thought it was a great idea, and it would make sense to include the book starring Bess herself. Townsend Press financed the printing of 5000 copies to Jennifer, and it was our pleasure to donate our royalties. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds from the Bess book sales will benefit Jennifer's cause. It has been proven that early reading habits directly relates to scholastic achievement.

1 Leah9

Board Member

Rating: 5

I am proud to be on the board of Bess the Book Bus. Bess is a non-profit mobile literacy outreach dedicated to getting books into the households of children who would otherwise go without. There is ample research that shows kids without books in the home are significantly more likely to spend their entire lives below the poverty line. This organization is staffed by ONE person, the visionary and founder, Jennifer Frances. Jennifer has build this organization based on a strong desire to build a love of reading in children similar to the one her grandmother, Bess, gave to her. Bess is based in Tampa, FL but is on the road across the United States annually. In 2011 she placed over 50,000 books into the hands of children in over 20 states. Her budget is minimal and focuses on maintaining the bus and keeping it fueled (the major expense). When you factor in the in-kind book donations along with those purchased, Bess distributed over $2M in product last year. It is difficult to really explain the magical quality that Bess has in these kids' lives... they light up when the bus pulls up and they are allowed to climb aboard and select their very own book. Jennifer also conducts 'read alouds' with the kids as part of her program... and the kids love it because she approaches her reading from the perspective of the child that is listening... she really understands them. You can experience Bess by going to her web site: bessthebookbus.org. This is one organization that you can have confidence is focused on the bottom line... helping children explore the world between the covers of a book.