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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

8 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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 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

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

One look at the faces of the children who get a book from Bess the Book Bus tells the whole story. Jennifer Frances's love and dedication shows in the way she interacts with young readers and how she helps them pick out their very own books. She goes into the most impoverished areas with her yellow book bus and changes lives for the better, opens hearts and minds. I once watched her outside a hotel conference center when she called over someone from the hotel staff who was leaving. "Do you have any children at home?" she asked. "Would they like a free book?" She's a wonder and is doing so much good in the world!

1 Margaret83

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Speaking from the perspective of an author, fantastic organization and people who are 100% dedicated to serving the community and bringing magic to kids. They are so supportive of authors and books, but most importantly go places and see kids who may never have had their own book. I hear from teachers that the kids' excitement and delight with their books and with reading lasts long after Bess has left.

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.