Eighty percent of fourth graders from low-income families in the United States do not read proficiently, a key predictor of a child's future educational and economic success.
To help address this, KPMG LLP (No. 11 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list), the U.S. audit, tax and advisory firm, will put more than 100,000 new books into the hands of children in cities across the United States – including the donation of its four millionth book through KPMG's Family for Literacy (KFFL) program – as part of a "Read to Achieve" initiative being conducted in partnership with non-profit social enterprise First Book.
Beginning in March, more than 100 KPMG offices throughout the United States will celebrate KFFL's 10-year anniversary by hosting literacy events for children and educators at local schools and community organizations with many taking place on March 2 to coincide with the National Education Association's Read Across America Day. KPMG partners and professionals along with spouses, family members, and alumni will volunteer at these events.
Large-scale, pop-up book fairs will take place in ten cities that KPMG and First Book strategically identified as benefitting most from a 5,000 book distribution. Special attention was paid to eight rural areas of the country with acute need and less resources. The remaining two, Houston and San Juan, Puerto Rico, are currently recovering from the devastating 2017 hurricane season. Other book fairs and distribution events will be held in cities across the country.
"KPMG invests in education and lifelong learning because they are important catalysts for addressing pervasive issues such as poverty and unemployment," said Lynne Doughtie, KPMG Chairman and CEO. "Literacy is the first critical step for children in our communities to thrive and confidently lead us into the future."
KPMG's Empower Collection, a collection of children's books that celebrates the firm's core values with titles focused on inclusion and diversity, citizenship, environmental sustainability, ethics, and financial literacy, will be distributed at the Read to Achieve events.
"Research shows that the most significant barrier to childhood literacy is a lack of access to books," said KPMG Deputy Chairman and Chief Operating Officer P. Scott Ozanus. "For 10 years, KPMG's Family for Literacy program has provided new books to children in need to tangibly move the needle on an issue that continues to hold millions back."
First Book will also host an online national auction benefitting KFFL to raise funds for additional books to be donated. The auction will be open to the public from March 15 to March 21 and include travel packages, sporting event tickets and memorabilia, and more prizes up for bid.
"From the beginning, First Book has relied on partners like KPMG to help us carry out our mission of making sure all kids have access to high-quality, relevant books," said Kyle Zimmer, president, CEO, and co-founder of First Book. "We are so proud of the impact that our partnership with KPMG has made for kids in need across the country. Ten years and four million books are incredible achievements for our partnership and I cannot wait to see what's next."
For more information about KPMG's KFFL program, visit here.
For more details about the online auction, check the KFFL Facebook page.