Books in Every Home, a Boise State student project, puts new, high-quality books in the hands of local families who would not be able to afford them otherwise.
The project met its goal of raising $2,000 through PonyUp, the university fundraiser. But if you’d still like to help, it’s not too late. Books in Every Home will accept donations until noon Friday, Nov. 6, on its PonyUp page.
Founded in 2017 as a capstone project for graduating English majors, Books in Every Home has been offered as a Vertically Integrated Project (VIP) in the College of Innovation and Design for four semesters. VIPs allow students of any class year and major to enroll on a faculty-led team to solve a real-world problem for academic credit. The Books in Every Home VIP seeks to increase future opportunities for children living in poverty by supporting their early literacy.
Every semester, students set the near-term goals of the project and assume leadership roles. Project leaders this semester are senior graphic design major Kacie Fromhart, fundraising lead, responsible for the PonyUp campaign; second-degree environmental and urban studies major Stefanie Buckbee, community liaison, coordinating relationships between the project and local nonprofit agencies and schools; and senior social science major Marisa Hadley, video production lead. Tara Penry, a professor in the Department of English, teaches the class. (Eun Hye Son, chair of the department of Literacy, Language and Culture, usually co-teaches the class with Penry).
“I love to see the students taking leadership roles and leaving lasting marks on the project. For example, one student designed the logo that we now use. Another verified the translations in our multilingual books. Others have opened relationships with new community partners or created social media accounts,” said Penry. “Many of the innovations introduced by students remain with the project after the students themselves have moved on. This is a very special aspect of a Vertically Integrated Project.”
This fall, the team built a new relationship with CATCH of Ada County, a nonprofit agency that provides temporary assistance to lift families out of homelessness. With the funds raised through PonyUp, the class will deliver books to CATCH families for parents to give to their children as holiday gifts.
“Having access to stories that inspire and characters that you can relate to, especially as a child, is truly an empowering experience,” said Hadley. “Not only does this prepare them for future academic success, but it also helps them recenter themselves as main characters — inspiring curiosity, confidence, and perseverance. Knowing that we are helping to bring this kind of joy to children in need brings so much comfort. For me, this project has been a bright spot during an otherwise difficult time and I feel very honored to be apart of it.”
Fromhart also spoke about the value of books and stories for young readers.
“I was a regular at my school library and always had a book in my backpack. I remember reading before school, after school, and late into the night. Books were a really great outlet for me and I believe developed my imaginative and creative skills,” she said. “It’s been really fun to reflect on my early reading years and remember these memories. I joined this VIP Project to help provide access to those experiences for kids who might otherwise not have access, especially now during COVID.”
Buckbee, too, said she was thrilled to be part of this Boise State VIP.
“I feel like I am making a difference in the lives of children in Boise that will have a lasting impact. We are so excited to put the funds raised through our Pony Up campaign towards carefully chosen, culturally diverse books to distribute to kids in the community.”
New donations beyond the $2,000 goal will spread the reach of the project to even more homes by putting new books in Idaho Foodbank backpacks for children at Title I schools, said Penry. The foodbank’s backpack program provides healthy weekend meals for children who rely on school for many of their meals.