Q&A With Microgrant Recipients Chase
June 13, 2019
Karma for Cara Foundation awards microgrants to youths 18 years of age and younger who spearhead exceptional service projects in their communities. Meet Chase (12) from Tampa, FL, co-founder of the nonprofit read. repeat. Chase and his friend Vance have donated over 90,000 books in the past two years through their nonprofit’s activities. They collect books through book drives for their local county school system to be given either directly to schools or to children who might not otherwise own books. However, most of the books they donate only represent a small percentage of the children attending those schools. They also realize there is a need for popular books with diversity, representing the minorities in their county. It is their goal to give kids books that represent them. They are leaders of the only “kid-run” book collecting nonprofit in their county and collected books through May 2019 for this particular project.
What inspired you to start this project? We love reading and started our project called “read.repeat.” almost three years ago to share our love of books. We’ve now donated more than 100,000 books and we’re most proud of the 60,000 we’ve delivered to Title 1 schools and students. Our favorite deliveries are when we take thousands of books to a school, set up tables piled with donations and help kids pick out books to read over the summer and to keep! We began realizing the majority of the books we collected did not represent the vast diversity of ethnicities we see in schools. We knew we wanted to collect as many books with diversity to provide kids with new, high-interest books with characters like them. We also knew that for children in struggling areas, having the chance to own a new book of their very own would inspire them even more to enjoy it.
Other than you, how many student volunteers participated in your service project? 34
How many adult volunteers participated in your service project? 12
How many hours did you spend on your project? 120
How many hours did other volunteers spend on your project? 85
How many individuals were affected by your project? 350
During the time period between when you applied for a K4C microgrant & when you completed the project, what surprised you? We are constantly surprised by how many people help this project. We applied for the K4C microgrant and also ran a GoFundMe to match the grant so we could definitely afford to buy each child at Cleveland Elementary School one new book with diversity and supply each of the 17 classrooms with 10-15 new books for their libraries. We also collected 3000 used books so the kids could get an additional 6 books to help combat the summer slide. We were shocked by how many individuals came forward to donate money to this cause. Along with the books, my little brother, Zach, raised money to supply each child with a book bag so they’d have a place to store the books. Cleveland is described as a transient school; kids move around a lot, sometimes living in the surrounding motels. Zach felt it was important to provide the students with a safe place to keep their books. With the help of so many people making monetary donations we gave kids not just a bag filled with books but the key to a positive educational future.
Overall what did you learn from this experience? Kids need high-interest books with characters that look like them! Although there were piles of thousands of used books for the students to sort through the most exciting books were located on the special tables containing the books-with-diversity provided by the K4C microgrant. Cleveland Elementary School’s demographics are 70% African American, 30% Hispanic, 4% Mixed and 6% White. The kids squealed with excitement to see characters like Little Shaq, Sofia Martinez, Jada Jones, Mya Tibbs and Freddie Ramos!
How will your project continue having an impact in the future? It is proven that kids who own books do better in school and kids who read over the summer combat the “summer slide,” returning to school in the fall prepared to learn. The 350 kids at Cleveland Elementary headed into summer equipped with the tools to supply a more positive experience in school next year. Because we were able to purchase additional books for the classrooms, providing each classroom with 10-15 books for the new school year, we have given the teachers additional resources to keep their kids engaged in reading next year and years to come.
How was the K4C microgrant helpful in the completion of your project? “read.repeat.” has donated 100,000 books in the past three years, more than 60,000 going to Hillsborough County Public Schools and its students. Most of our donations are used books. By providing new, high-interest, books of diversity we increased the excitement level of the students toward reading. Without the microgrant we would have never been able to provide each student with a new book containing characters like them. For many of the kids, this was the first new book for them to own!