NYJTL is happy to partner with First Book in an effort to expand available academic enrichment to children in all five boroughs of New York City. This first-year collaboration has laid out the groundwork for developing appropriate level reading material for the many varying ages and skill levels that the organization represents throughout its programming.
First Book is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides learning materials, new books, and many other resources to children around the nation in need. Since their establishment in 1992, First Book has distributed more than 160 million books and other educational resources to programs and schools around the United States and Canada aiding children from low-income families. First Book assists a growing network of educators and programs serving children in need.
The Walt Disney Company donated $100,000 to First Book to help them with the education of low-income families. Through this grant, per the request of Disney, NYJTL received a grant to help the children of our organization to accelerate in their education. The longstanding relationship between Disney and NYJTL, and First Book’s grant, a literacy center at NYJTL’s flagship facility, the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning, will serve families in NYC Community District 3 within the next few weeks. These literacy resources will be housed in the Disney Creative Learning Center, a space at the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning dedicated to the creativity, learning, and achievement of NYC youth.
As part of NYJTL’s strategic plan to reach more youth through academic enrichment, NYJTL will also be developing mobile literacy centers for city-wide youth who access NYJTL’s free community tennis programming on NYC public tennis courts in the five boroughs. NYJTL will be equipping ACES comprehensive afterschool school-based programs, which serve 3,500 students daily in year-round tennis & enrichment programming, with a reading nook to support and engage students during homework time.
NYJTL strongly believes that life skills gained through tennis are the catalyst for educational achievement, and combined with academic enrichment and programs like First Book, NYJTL can prepare youth for long term success and opportunity. NYJTL will be able to further academics, build a community through reading clubs, and enhance creative learning in native English speakers and English learners through the 6,000 English and Spanish books granted by First Book. Working with First Book’s “Book Concierge”, NYJTL identified a wide variety of books for students in grades K-12 in categories such as health and wellness, character development, anti-bullying, community, and friendship. NYJTL is looking forward to partnering with First Book in the future for their expertise in curating appropriate reading materials for all development levels and for their insight and interest in today’s youth.
These partnerships with First Book and Disney “has been a dream come true,” said Chief Education Officer Jessica Kruskamp. In creating NYJTL’s strategic education for academic enrichment goals, Jessica has worked closely with these organizations to access the right tools for NYJTL kids. Jessica said that “when all 6,000 books arrived – just box after box (after box) of free, brand new beautiful books with titles I knew the kids would love, I kept imagining two things. First was our students, exhausted and triumphant from giving it their all on the court on these hot New York City Summer Days, carefully selecting a book and marveling over the embossed spines, settling in to rest and engage their imaginations. Then, I think of the statue of Arthur Ashe in Richmond, Virginia, with his arms in a triumphant pose, held high with a book in one hand and a tennis racquet in another. I’m proud of NYJTL’s commitment to the educational achievement of our students and so grateful to Disney and First Book for being partners in that effort.” Jessica has a vision to infuse reading clubs and literacy advancement throughout the entire NYJTL network.
Written by Sachi Kurup