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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

5 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 hugs4chris


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!



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!!

2 Rebecca183


Rating: 5

The Clearwater Alumnae Club of Pi Beta Phi has worked with Jenn and Bess the Book Bus for 2+ years. Nothing but positive things to say! A great organization with a great mission. We have both donated books and also volunteered with Bess.

2 Ellen83


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!

Concetta P.


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.