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Mission Statement

PHILADELPHIA READS provides opportunities for individuals, groups, corporations and foundations to start a child on the path to academic success. We offer opportunities to inspire a child's lifelong love of reading, build a child’s literacy skills and help raise a city of readers!


The PHILADELPHIA READS mission is to build a city of readers by providing in-school and out-of-school programs that strengthen the literacy skills of Philadelphia school children. Our goal is to provide Philadelphia students in underserved schools the skills they need to achieve reading proficiency by grade four.


The Book Bank

New and gently-used children’s books for classroom libraries.

The Book Bank - a free book store for teachers to supply their classroom libraries -- provides children’s books and school supplies --free of charge -- to Philadelphia educators who teach in public, charter and parochial schools, day care centers, after school programs and other educational sites. All books and supplies are donated through corporate and volunteer-hosted PHILADELPHIA READS book drives and corporate and individual donations.

In the 2010 -2011 school year, 91,000 books were supplied to under resourced classroom libraries.

Power Partners

Corporate social responsibility program for volunteers to coach and mentor elementary students in their offices during lunch hour.

Volunteers receive literacy coach training at their place of business; they mentor and tutor first and second grade students each week. In the 2010-2011 school year, 35 companies participated in the Power Partners program.

Reading Olympics

A full-year team-building reading program that culminates in a citywide reading competition.

Student teams (grades 4-8) read and study twenty novels and each May gather on Philadelphia college campuses to compete on their knowledge. This is largest Jeopardy-style annual reading competition in the city.The program has grown from 8 teams in 2002 to 173 teams and 1800 students in 2011.

Summer Reads

A summer enrichment reading, arts and science program.

Summer Reads program delivers a core curriculum to 15 inner-city summer camp sites. The program is designed to prevent summer learning loss and engage children in an active, fun learning environment. Summer Reads enhances knowledge of literature, writing, science, civics, art and music.

Reading Coach Program

Training volunteer reading coaches and matching them with under-resourced schools for one-on-one literacy coaching.


Annual Read Across America Day/Dr. Suess Celebration

Annual celebration of literacy that features the Philadelphia government leaders reading a Dr. Suess book and corporate and political leaders reading to students. PHILADELPHIA READS has hosted this event since 2006.

MLK Day of Service

Annual day of volunteer service at the Book Bank. Each year hundreds of volunteers sort and shelve thousands of donated books and record books for the Books on Tape project.

Reading is Fundamental (RIF) Book Distribution

PHILADELPHIA READS partners with RIF to distribute more than 12,000 children’s books annually to students in under resourced schools. This partnership enables us to put books directly into the hands of children for their home libraries.

Organization Background

In 1997, then Mayor Ed Rendell launched PHILADELPHIA READS, demonstrating a commitment to the America’s Promise Alliance. This Alliance was created in Philadelphia at the 1997 meeting of the Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future. At this gathering, Presidents Clinton, Bush, Carter and Ford, Nancy Reagan, Colin Powell, governors, mayors, and community leaders throughout the nation challenged America to make children and youth a national priority. Chaired by Retired Gen. Colin L. Powell, the Alliance’s five core promises focused on providing children and youth with Caring Adults, Safe Places, A Healthy Start and An Effective Education.

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