2022 Dr. Joel Spiro Community Impact Award (1 of 2 awardees): The RED Bookshelf
The RED Bookshelf is a non-profit community literacy program that inspires children in Albany to read. It does so by making high-quality books available for free for children and their families to choose and keep at home. Children are more likely to read, and read again, the books they choose themselves, which yields more time spent practicing and improving their reading skills and improves young readers’ feelings of success.
The organization believes strongly in eradicating the most challenging barriers to reading and in empowering children to be “superheroes in training.” Staff and volunteers work on improving equitable access to book ownership; providing structured time for practicing reading outside of school; motivating children to choose and read books that interest them; and enhancing community awareness of the importance of promoting literacy.
Since its beginning in 2009, The RED Bookshelf has distributed more than 160,000 books for children in Albany. Says Executive Director Paul Collins-Hackett: “By awakening the inner hero in every person we work with, we are creating tangible change in our communities. Inspired readers become inspired leaders!”
The RED Bookshelf is a strong partner with Albany Center Gallery on several programs, including ACG’s LOOK! Youth Art Series in its new Art.Work.Space., a vibrant environment for making and sharing art. “I’m super excited about the gallery’s new dedicated space for young people to do creative activities,” says Paul. “Community efforts like these are very much appreciated.”