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Make Way For Books Case Study

Posted by tucson

Investee name: Make Way For Books

Investee website: http://www.makewayforbooks.org/

Focus Area: Literacy            

First Grant Awarded: 2008

Total SVP grants to date: $75,000

Case Study summary below. Click here to read the entire Make Way For Books Case Study by Erin Henderson.

Mission & Vision: “To promote early literacy in limited resource area of Tucson by giving young children the opportunity to fall in love with books and reading. Our vision is that all children in our community will begin kindergarten with the necessary reading readiness skills to be successful.”

History: The idea for MAKE WAY FOR BOOKS started in 1997. Founder Dr. Mary Jan Bancroft had moved to Tucson from Reno, Nevada where she was a professor in the Department of Education at the University of Nevada, Reno. Through a desire to learn more about the needs of the Tucson community and how she might be able to contribute her time and expertise, Dr. Bancroft answered a listing to read to 4-year-olds at a preschool located just south of Downtown Tucson. She soon realized that most childcare centers in low-income areas of Tucson and southern Arizona did not have quality children’s books.

Believing every young child should have the chance to fall in love with books and reading, Mary Jan personally put a library in the center and conducted the very first early literacy workshop for the staff there. Shortly after, with the help of good friend Jennifer J. Stewart and supportive husband Paul Bancroft, Mary Jan formed MAKE WAY FOR BOOKS as a 501(c)(3). That was nearly 14 years ago. Now, with the help of nine employees, hundreds of supporters and volunteers, and dozens of partner agencies, MWFB, the Early Literacy Center for Southern Arizona, provides evidence-based early literacy resources to more than 100 centers and home-care settings and thousands of children and families.

Since its inception in 1997, MFWB has given thousands of books to children, set-up libraries of quality picture books in preschools, given many the chance to spread a love of reading by placing volunteers as story time readers, and provided early literacy education materials to parents, childcare workers and educators. They have also instituted a beloved community event known as Storytown. With a growing staff, MWFB has climbed from a one-woman operation to claiming the role of “the early literacy resource for Southern Arizona.”

Major Programs: MWFB takes a research-based comprehensive approach that serves families and caregivers of young children in a variety of settings – in the home, in childcare centers, and in the community. They offer early literacy education materials, and resources for parents and childcare providers. Notably, MWFB sets up libraries in preschools to ensure quality reading materials that will foster a love of reading and books at a young age. This includes a babies program, a toddlers program, a preschool program, Summer Reading Buddies, and Family Literacy Events (including Storytown).

Rationale for SVP Involvement: As a recipient of the First Things First award, MWFB must demonstrate its capacity in order to continue receiving funding from FTF. FTF is currently funded by a voter-enacted tax on tobacco products. This money provides funding to support nonprofits in building upon or improving the programs, services, and resources already available to support young children and their families. The partnership between MWFB and SVPGT would be leveraged in the FTF Grant because SVPGT’s expert assistance would build capacity in the areas necessary to provide services to MWFB’s expanding services.

Key SVP Impact to Date: Assistance from SVPGT Partners in the area of human resources has been the number one most positively leveraged resource with MWFB. The financial support was used to supplement two AmeriCorps members, purchase four new computers and software, three new telephones, professional development training, IT services, a subscription to an e marketing tool, and new furniture. Through the leveraging of MWFB’s relationship with SVPGT, MWFB secured funding from FTF, a funding source “that will potentially contribute to the organization’s stability for years to come.”
SVPGT also provided expertise in the areas of board leadership, fund development, program evaluation and strategic planning.

Summary of Capacity-Building Achievements:


Defined roles and responsibilities of Board

Human resources- organizational structure

Added staff positions

Donor management software


Employee evaluation procedures

Fund development donor base explored/coached

Revamped program evaluation procedures

Staff trained in financial management


Strategic planning