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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


$2 million donated to literacy programs by Tucson Festival of Books

Ana Beltran

The Tucson Festival of Books is a free, public celebration of authors, books, reading and literacy. Many tents were more than just books, this event has things for people of all ages.

The Tucson Festival of Books was canceled due to authors pulling out last minute amid concerns over COVID-19. However, the stories are published online for the journalist that wish to use these as clips.

Over the past 11 years, the festival has given back over $2 million to literacy programs in the Tucson community.

One of the programs that the festival gave to was Reading Seed, a program run by Literacy Connects that coaches at elementary schools. According to their website, the program partners with high-need schools to offer students who read below their grade level help. They work to create a positive and non-judgmental environment in order to emphasize the importance of reading. 

According to Sabrina Lobato-Gonzales, development director at Literacy Connects, a third of the funding given to their organization goes to the Reading Seed program. 

“The money from the festival helps to cover costs for about seven schools every year,” Lobato-Gonzales said.

The funding from the festival that doesn’t go toward Reading Seed goes towards Literacy Connect’s other programs and helps their adult students, and it supported 85 people in Adult Basic Literacy and English Language Acquisition programs.

“We as an organization are absolutely thrilled to get the money every year, and we try to work in close partnership with the festival,” Lobato-Gonzales said. “The Reading Seed program tries to help with the festival as much as they can by providing volunteers. They also will attend press conferences for the festival, and they chair one of their committees every month.”

RELATED: The Tucson Festival of Books: Brought to you by thousands

The festival also gave back to the University of Arizona BookStores. According to the 2018-2019 Charitable Impact report, “UA BookStores supported 76 literacy events and programs which impacted 9,378 community members including children and adults, as well as facilitated donations of 18,507 books, for a total reach of 27,885.” Storytime events were held at multiple schools, where each school received a copy of the book shared to the classes. 

The festival also gave back to UA Fusion Camps, which are held over summer and winter breaks and focus on promoting themes of scientific exploration, literacy, creative arts and fitness. They allow kids to get hands-on experience and to develop a love for learning. The camps are located at the Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium.

Overall, funding from the festival helped 552 students from kindergarten to seventh grade. More than 95% of students and parents reported that the experience at the camp was excellent, according to the Charitable Impact report.

“The Tucson Festival of Books is not only a celebration of literature, it’s a celebration of literacy,” said Bill Viner, one of the festival’s founders, on a flyer for an announcement on charitable impact. “Since its inception in 2009, the Festival of Books has donated more than $2 million to local literacy groups that are making a difference in our community.”

The festival is chiefly sponsored by the Arizona Daily Star, the University of Arizona and Tucson Medical Center Healthcare.

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