One of the schools that State Farm delivered the RIF literacy kits to was Judge Sylvania W. Woods Senior Elementary School in Prince George’s County, Maryland. (Courtesy Photo)

By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member

In an effort to celebrate the power of reading, State Farm and Reading is Fundamental (RIF) recently delivered 1,000 literacy kits to So Others Might Eat, a D.C. nonprofit that supports residents experiencing poverty and homelessness, and Title I elementary schools in the Maryland and D.C. area. 

Thirteen State Farm agents brought together their offices to assemble the literacy kits, which contained three new books, bookplates, a bookmark and reading activity sheets. The materials were bundled inside a RIF tote bag so students can easily transport their new books. 

“State Farm has been a steadfast partner to RIF since 2006 and together, we have been able to serve thousands of students in under-resourced communities in the D.C. metropolitan area,” said Alicia Levi, president and CEO at RIF. 

RIF, which was founded in 1966, seeks to inspire a passion for reading among all children, provide quality content to create impact, and engage communities in the solution to give every child the fundamentals for success. 

This joint endeavor was a part of State Farm’s Good Neighbor Citizenship Grant, a program that financially supports nonprofit organizations that focus on safety, education or community development. 

RIF has been a recipient of the grant since 2013, and this year, the literacy organization received $30,000 from State Farm to support its flagship Books for Ownership program.

Research indicates the importance of book ownership and its direct ties to increased student reading performance, motivation and frequency,” said Levi. “RIF’s mission has long-focused on book access but today, we know this is even more important as many students will encounter long-lasting implications from the pandemic’s impact on learning and reading in particular.”

Shanna Stringfield, a Bowie State Farm agent, used her office as a central location to assemble 250 of the 1,000 literacy kits with three of her fellow agents. The kits went to students in kindergarten through fifth grade. 

Prior to the pandemic, Stringfield and other agents were able to volunteer in person at the schools to support RIF’s programming. They would help the children choose books that interested them. Stringfield said she is hoping to return to an in-person volunteer experience in the near future. 

“I hope that they take home, and their parents are able to work with them in reading the books,” said Stringfield. “Then, I hope that the kids are able to share with each other what they got out of reading the books, anything to interest them so that they do develop a passion for reading.”

Help us Continue to tell OUR Story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members!  Join here!