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Serving More Children, Expanding our Impact

  • Bernie’s Book Bank was founded on the premise that lack of book ownership should never be the reason we don’t have reading ready or reading proficient children in America.  The statistics surrounding this are alarming.  However, it is a solvable problem and Bernie’s Book Bank believes we can solve it.
  • Our vision was to create an ultra – effective, efficient, sustainable, and scalable metropolitan-based children’s book bank model which would serve every qualifying child in that area with 8 quality books annually from birth through 6th grade.  Once established, we’d replicate this model in every major American city where we were needed and welcomed.
  • For the past 15 years, we’ve been working diligently to fine tune our model and transform the organization from a successful start-up to a sustainable institution.  Though the pandemic presented some unique challenges, it elevated the importance of our work, while also making us stronger – now we’re ready to serve more children!
  • The next “Chapter” for Bernie’s Book Bank is to extend our mission within Chicagoland and beyond, creating a national presence.
  • We’ve established a National Endowment Fund to support sustainability, created a National Office & Team, and a plan to create a National Board of Directors to oversee our organization Bernie’s Book Bank nationally.

Expanding our Mission to Serve the Children in the Greater Milwaukee Area

  • Given the geographic proximity to our Chicagoland operation, AND the Milwaukee Public School’s participation in our successful Randomized Control Trial (conducted by Measured Decision Inc, and Funded by the Arnold Foundation) over the last 5 years, announcing the Greater Milwaukee Area (Counties of Milwaukee, Waukesha, Washington, and Walworth) as our first expansion city is a no-brainer.  The proximity to our Chicagoland operation will also allow us to leverage existing inventory and infrastructure while we build out the Greater Milwaukee area facility and infrastructure.
  • The need for our service in the Greater Milwaukee area, like many other cities, is great. Data we have obtained from our partners at KPMG identified 60,205 Milwaukee Public School Students that qualify for our program (Title I Participants) across 190 Schools.  The data also identified another approximately 10,000 students from the Milwaukee Corridor (Racine and Kenosha Counties), that would also qualify.  In addition to the public schools, we will look to serve charter and private schools with under-resourced students, as well as partnering with other entities who serve under-resourced children between the ages of 0 – 5.
  • The schools identified average 78% Title I participation in Milwaukee Public Schools and 68% in the Milwaukee Corridor.

In our first year we plan to serve 20,000 children across 60 schools with over 160,000 FREE, age-appropriate, high-interest, and culturally relevant books to deserving children.

Our goal is to have a facility in place and operational by the end of 2025 AND serving approximately 200K qualifying children in Greater Milwaukee area by the end of 2026.

A Bigger Stronger Bernie’s Book Bank Benefits ALL Communities we Serve

  • Creating a model is one thing, extending our mission to other cities and becoming a national organization is a whole different story – but we are ready and embrace this challenge.
  • Our national footprint will allow us to positively impact the organization in multiple ways, ultimately making us more effective, efficient, scalable and sustainable;
    • Cultivating donors with a more national footprint or focus and/or who are looking to partner and build something transformative on a national scale.  Leveraging corporate partners with operations in multiple cities will be key to our expansion success.
    • Growing our national presence in multiple distribution markets will allow us to take advantage of economies of scale as it pertains to book acquisition.  As such, we believe this presents a strategic opportunity to continue to potentially reduce our overall costs.
    • Continue to elevate our ability to attract accomplished and experienced talent for both our Teams and Boards.
    • Understanding the importance of book ownership and the impact we have in Chicagoland; we envision a future where every child has equal access to books and the opportunities they inspire!

Help create pathways to success through book ownership in the Greater Milwaukee Area:

Other ways to help:

Learn more about our National Expansion plan and Strategy?
Contact Darrin Utynek: [email protected].

Interested in providing financial support or becoming a financial partner?
Contact Brain Floriani: [email protected].