School’s out for summer.
To Megan Byrne Sandberg, director of development for New Threads of Hope, an area non-profit, that means kids are dropping their backpacks and picking up remotes.
As a result, valuable knowledge gained over the school year will be lost over the extended summer break, she said.
New Threads, located at 3001 N. 112th St. in Wauwatosa but primarily serving Milwaukee’s central city, started out distributing new clothes, shoes and other household items to the poor, and began distributing books four years ago.
The organization is working to combat the problem widely referred to as the “summer slide.”
Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in math over the summer, and low-income students lose more than that in reading, according to the National Summer Learning Association.
“One reason is a lack of books at home,” Byrne said. That’s why the organization launched the literacy initiative, “New Books for New Achievement.”
The organization recently donated 25,000 books that children will be receiving at summer meal programs in Milwaukee. Most of the books New Threads distributes are overstock, and provided through a partnership with First Book, located in Washington D.C., and other local partners. The initiative was made possible by a $15,000 donation from the Faye McBeath Foundation and $5,000 from the United Way of Greater Milwaukee.
Book donations will number more than 100,000 by the time the 2014 initiative is complete.
New Threads partners with children’s centers, literacy programs and schools to distribute the books. One of those partners is the Hmong American Peace Academy (HAPA), 4601 N. 84th St. According to Lisa Attonito, director at HAPA, the donation helped the school’s library, generated buzz for a book drive and put much-needed books in the hands of kids.
“It was a special opportunity, as many children have very limited family resources, and to have a book of their very own is very inspiring and something that is cherished,” Attonito said.