November 4, 2016
Massachusetts nonprofit donates $500,000 in books to Navajo and Hopi schools
by Kait Howard
An Amherst, Massachusetts, nonprofit focused on promoting literacy has just made its largest donation of books ever to Navajo and Hopi nation schools.
Joshua Kellogg at the Farmingham Daily Times reports that Reader to Reader, Inc. is “donating about 22,000 books to five school districts in Arizona and New Mexico…an increase of about 5,000 books from last year’s donation.”
The books, which were donated in partnership with Scholastic Corporation’s Possible Fund, as well as publishers including Soho Press and Pioneer Valley Books, are “aimed at preschool and kindergarten students” in five different school districts. At the same time, Reader to Reader is also donating over 21,000 books to the Navajo Nation Library in Window Rock, Arizona.
Perhaps coincidentally, the donation comes just as renewed attention is focused on terrible conditions in Native American schools across the country. As the Associated Press’s Mary Hudetz reports, this week federal officials appointed a new head of the Bureau of Indian Education, which has “has been beset by scandal, funding shortfalls and safety hazards at facilities.” Maggie Severns’s terrific Politico report last year focused on widespread mismanagement and ethical violations—even blatant embezzlement of funds—at the agency that, according to Politico’s Kimberly Hefling, oversees more than 180 schools, primarily on remote reservations. As Hefling notes, “They are among the nation’s lowest performing schools, with problems dating back to the 19th century, when Native American children were forcibly removed from their homes to attend them.”
Kait Howard was a publicist at Melville House.