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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

18 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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 Christine187

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Great way to spread knowledge. Keep up the great work

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.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I had the distinct pri ledge to watch Bess being joy to some children on the Navajo reservation and to this day when I think of the smiles on those little faces it makes my heart fill with joy. To see those children experience something that they might not ever have the opportunity to experience and to watch them laugh and smile and share their selected books with others was something I hope more children in vulnerable areas get to experience. Our children need Bess!

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Bess the Book Bus is needed to connect people to people and people to books, in this digital age it is even more important for the itinerant book bus to stay on the road, inspiring families with children to read together

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My school in Jacksonville, Florida is on the "hopeful" list. That is - hopeful that one day Bess The Book Bus will visit. As a school librarian in an inner city school, I know and fully understand the importance of placing reading materials into the hands of children. The work that is done by these volunteers fills the reading and literacy gap that exists for many children. Keep up the good work - we need you out here!

1 Richard141

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am only a Facebook friend of Bess The Book Bus, just an interested stranger, but I am in love with every little thing about it. I am amazed it exists and I think the good work it does is beyond measure.

1 Erika35

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Bess the Book Bus is close to my heart! My oldest son has visited with Bess several times around our home town Fort Walton Beach and she has even visited his school. Bess the Book Bus truly gets children excited about books and reading.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The last 2 years Bess the book bus has visited in my small town. My 3 children, ages 12, 9, & 1 enjoy being able to choice a book of their liking. Such a great organization! We hope Bess visits Milbridge again in the future.

2 Cody N.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I met Jen and Bess the Book Bus on her swing through Monterey, CA. She exudes such a positive attitude for reading that the kids can't help but fall in love with reading themselves. Bess is an absolute treasure.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Jen at Bess the Book Bus is dedicated to getting books out to underprivileged kids. She is tireless in her efforts to help kids learn better reading skills and be excited about learning.

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.

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!!!

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