Des Moines, IA 


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©2019 by Spark Foundation


The Details

The goal of Spark’s “Love to Read” project is to put ten books per year, into the hands of students whose parent’s economic situation may make book ownership unaffordable. Starting with first grade, Spark hopes to provide volunteers for classrooms to read books featuring diverse characters that are written by diverse authors. As the students progress through elementary, Spark will progress with them, introducing different authors, writing styles, and subject matter that is age appropriate. By time students graduate 5thgrade, we have hopefully been able to provide:

  • Between 25 and 50 books for their personal home libraries

  • Interactions with no less than 15 diverse class room volunteers 


The populations that Spark works with are diverse, both culturally and economically. Currently, we are working with three schools; River Woods Elementary, Moulton Elementary, and Monroe Elementary.  At least 88% of the students attending these three schools qualify for free and/or reduced lunch, indicating a high rate of low-income families. Two of the three schools do not hold book fairs due to the economic position status of its families. Only 23% of the students are reading at level, showing a need for increased literacy assistance.


Our program looks to assist schools by hosting no cost book fairs, one to three times a year, pending funding. These no-cost book fairs are held in partnership with Scholastic Books®, who also provides each school with up to 50% of each fair’s profit back to the schools. This in turn provides teachers with funding to build their classroom libraries. Students in the participating grades are provided between $25-$35 then given the instruction to select a minimum of 5 books (Students are often able to get more as books range from $2 - $7). They are then allowed to select books that they are personally interested in. During these book fairs, community volunteers will help students ensure that the books selected are within their $35 voucher limit.  

The self-selection aspect of our program is critical and what truly sets Spark apart from other literacy foundations. We believe the impact of a child being given the power of choice will not only create a greater relationship to the book selected, but will teach students valuable lessons regarding buying power and investments. 


As an added benefit, throughout the year, Spark works with other community programs (Back 2 School, Highland Park Festival) to provide books (free of cost) that match the individual organizations mission. 

Spark Foundation President,

Akil Clark