Best Beginnings is one of 10 organizations selected from nominations across the United States to receive a State Literacy Award from The Library of Congress in 2020. Best Beginnings was nominated for the award by The Alaska Center for the Book for its “outstanding and innovative contributions to literacy in the local community and across the state”.
Through the generosity of philanthropist David M. Rubenstein, the Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program honors nonprofit organizations that have made outstanding contributions to increasing literacy in their local community or state. The awards also encourage the continuing development of innovative methods for promoting literacy and the wide dissemination of the most effective practices. They are intended to draw public attention to the importance of literacy, and the need to promote literacy and encourage reading.
“We are thrilled that Best Beginnings has received recognition from the Library of Congress for our early literacy work in Alaska,” remarks Abbe Hensley, Executive Director of Best Beginnings. “It also honors the efforts of the local communities and many volunteers who partner with us to bring Imagination Library books to Alaska children.”
Since 2013, the Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program has awarded $1.9 million in prizes to 120 institutions in 35 countries. By recognizing current achievements, the awards seek to enable any organization or program that does not operate on a for-profit basis to strengthen its involvement in literacy and reading promotion and to encourage collaboration with like-minded organizations. This award makes Alaska one of 10 states chosen for this year’s honor.
2020 State Literacy Awards Winning Nominees and Nominating Organizations
- Best Beginnings Alaska
Nominated by Alaska Center for the Book
- Illinois Reads
Nominated by Illinois Center for the Book
- More than Words
Nominated by Massachusetts Center for the Book
- Adopt a Book Inc.
Nominated by Ohio Center for the Book
- Rising Voices at Browning High School
Nominated by Montana Center for the Book
- Ridgelines Language Arts
Nominated by Pennsylvania Center for the Book
- Project Lit Community
Nominated by Tennessee Center for the Book
Nominated by Washington Center for the Book
- Winnebago Area Literacy Council
Nominated by Wisconsin Center for the Book
- Wyoming Reads
Nominated by Wyoming Center for the Book
From the Nomination
Best Beginnings is a statewide nonprofit promoting learning readiness in young children. Since 2006, the program has served over 18,000 families annually in cities and villages across Alaska, a state where reading levels lag behind the national average for the United States. (source: www.nationsreportcard.gov)
As a public-private partnership, Best Beginnings has generated more than $500,000 in private donations annually, plus thousands of volunteer hours. Alaska’s vast size, with many small villages inaccessible by road, creates difficulties in getting books and materials to families. However, as participants in the nationwide Imagination Library program, Best Beginnings with its partners has delivered over 223,700 free books each year to Alaskan children since its inception. The program also provides early reading activities and resources in English, Spanish and Yup’ik, as well as on-line connections that provide families with tips on incorporating music, storytelling, family and community events into their daily lives. Best Beginnings also helps parents and educators advocate for funding and policies supporting early childhood education on state and local levels. With a well-established structure, statewide reach, broad-based community support, and experience in reaching out to families all across Alaska, Best Beginnings is well situated to make wise use of grant funding from the Library of Congress State Literacy Awards.