Reading Is Fundamental and International Paper Celebrate the Power of Reading with Multi-year Partnership to Bring Books for Ownership Program to More than 400 Schools Across 28 Cities and Matching Grants Program in Select States Beginning 2019

2 October 2019

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) in partnership with International Paper announced today that it will expand its support of students' access to books and provide funding for capacity-building grants in support of RIF's Books for Ownership Program. Beginning in October 2019 to support the new school year, RIF and International Paper are celebrating the power and excitement of reading with local book celebrations for students at 400 schools across 28 cities during the 2019-2020 school year.

(PRNewsfoto/Reading Is Fundamental)

RIF and International Paper have created a special collection of 33 books and digital resources on RIF's Literacy Central that have environmental themes. This special collection was inspired by International Paper's commitment to sustainability. As a way to bring the power of reading to local communities, a key element of this program is to host local book celebrations through the generous donation from International Paper. At each event, this book donation will enable every first grader to choose three books to take home and keep. In addition, the children will celebrate at each event by participating in engaging and inspiring reading activities including read-alouds and arts and crafts.

New to the partnership this year are the capacity-building grants International Paper is supporting in five of their key markets. Capacity-building grants provide an opportunity for International Paper and RIF to create sustainable relationships in International Paper's local communities in the form of a Books for Ownership matching grant. Awards are given in the form of books and do require a local match of funds from the applicant.

RIF and International Paper are building on the power and impact that was created during the 2018-19 school year where nearly 11,000 first grade students received more than 36,000 books and digital resources to support their love of reading. In addition, 96% of teachers "would recommend their school continue working with RIF to have a Books for Ownership program in their school" and 92% of parents "gave the highest rating when asked if Books for Ownership was useful to their child's reading development."

Now in its second year, the Books for Ownership program is expanding its outreach to first graders in 28 International Paper communities across the U.S. Each city was selected based on the following criteria: reading rates are below other cities based on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) scores, a higher level of poverty, and primarily rural with less access to books and digital resources.

The book celebration event is part of Reading Is Fundamental's Books for Ownership flagship reading program which enables children to select new, age-appropriate books to take home and own. Research has shown that when children have access to books, they enjoy reading and they read more. And when they read more, they become accomplished readers. By providing children with choice and access to books and literacy resources, International Paper hopes to create a culture of literacy in the communities in which its employees live and work.

"Working with Reading Is Fundamental to support families and children in our communities is critical to a vibrant future for our next generation," said Dr. Alissa Campbell Shaw, Senior Manager, Community Engagement, International Paper and Executive Director, IP Foundation. "At International Paper, we are committed to supporting initiatives that provide children with the foundational education skills they need and programs like this one are strategic, powerful and effective."

"Reading Is Fundamental believes that every child deserves the fundamental building blocks needed to support their success in the future," says Reading is Fundamental President and CEO, Alicia Levi. "Working with committed partners like International Paper to provide children across the country with access to books and resources creates lasting impact in the lives of kids. We are excited to expand on the success of last year and build on this incredible program with them." 

The power of Books for Ownership is the community that supports it and RIF has created resources specifically for parents, educators, and volunteers so that they can create a continuous focus on reading within their circle of outreach. Over 40 million children nationwide have had the opportunity to experience the power and excitement of the Books for Ownership program.

Parents and caregivers can continue to encourage reading at home by visiting to find free reading activities, videos, parent guides, and much more or for reading resources aligned with books the children will receive at school.

About International Paper:

International Paper is a leading global producer of renewable fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper products with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, Europe, North Africa, India and Russia. We produce corrugated packaging products that protect and promote goods, and enable world-wide commerce; pulp for diapers, tissue and other personal hygiene products that promote health and wellness; and papers that facilitate education and communication. We are headquartered in Memphis, Tenn., employ more than 52,000 colleagues and serve more than 25,000 customers in 150 countries. Net sales for 2018 were $23 billion. For more information about International Paper, our products and global citizenship efforts, please visit

About Reading Is Fundamental:

Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) is committed to a literate America by inspiring a passion for reading among all children, providing quality content to create impact, and engaging communities in the solution to give every child the fundamentals for success. As the nation's largest nonprofit organization for children's literacy, RIF has provided more than 416 million books to 50 million kids in all 50 states, inspiring generations to read, learn and grow. For more information visit:

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SOURCE Reading Is Fundamental