Twenty years ago, Make Way for Books’ founder Dr. Mary Jan Bancroft found that many of the preschools and childcare centers serving economically-disadvantaged children in Tucson did not have quality books and literacy resources. In 1998, Mary Jan founded Make Way for Books and with the support of six volunteers, she began providing books and literacy workshops at five under-resourced preschools.
Today, Make Way for Books has a staff of 32, hundreds of volunteers, and last year they provided thousands of books and innovative programming to more than 30,000 children, families, and educators throughout southern Arizona.
Make Way for Books saw the unique opportunity to include parents and caregivers in the process of early literacy, and they saw engagement spike for all members of their families. Adults were getting involved in their children’s learning and the children were following the example of prioritizing learning. Their 2Generation Programs are nationally renowned for inspiring whole neighborhoods to band together and create learning communities that support each other along the way building social capital, support networks, and a sense of camaraderie. When neighbors buy into programs it helps to show the accessibility of receiving services.