Walking into school and seeing a truck with the Bernie’s Book Bank logo means one thing for children living in at-risk communities throughout Chicagoland, another six months of reading. The bridge between where unused, quality books are, and where they need to be is filled by Bernie’s Book Bank. Bernie’s Book Bank collects, processes, and distributes books for infants and young children in order to help foster a love of reading and encourage a fair pursuit of happiness.

From a 300-square-foot garage, to their upcoming 35,000-square-foot facility, this nonprofit organization has repeatedly established and achieved goals, while staying true to their original mission: increase book ownership in at-risk communities. With more than four million books already distributed since their start in 2009, Bernie’s Book Bank aspires to circulate four million children’s books annually, with the help of their new Lake Bluff facility to open this fall.

This new space will not only help distribute twice as many books at an impressively low cost of 25 cents per book, but will serve as a model for replication as they look to open in cities across America. This massive Lake Bluff facility will be home to a dynamic educational children’s book exhibit designed for all ages, and an event space targeted towards entertaining corporate groups, workshops, parties, and community events.

“There is a seat at our table for everyone, whether it’s money, books, or volunteering, I believe that what we do really well is harness ambition. Whether you’re a CPA or a CFO who wants to help with our financial model, a retired teacher who wants to come in and sort books, or a Girl Scout troop that wants to host a book drive, we take all that ambition and allocate it well, so that other businesses and organizations don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” says Executive Director Brian Floriani, who was inspired to do something different with his life after the passing of his father, whom he named the organization after. Offering the red carpet treatment to all ages and abilities is essential to operating a premier volunteer destination that doubles as a sustainable source of revenue, and is what the team at Bernie’s Book Bank will be able to accomplish with this new facility. From hosting birthday parties and bat mitzvahs to corporate think tanks and team building exercises, this facility will welcome all to use the space as a community resource while also gaining perspective on the importance of books to education.

Visit the link here to read the rest of Brian’s speech.