Press Release

American Federation of Teachers Given Nearly $175,000 to Help New Educators Stock Classrooms with Books

First Book has awarded a $174,600 OMG (Offering More Great) Books to Spark Innovation grant for the AFT’s multistate proposal to give direct funding and ongoing support to new educators

For Release: 

Monday, July 15, 2019


Leslie Getzinger

WASHINGTON—The American Federation of Teachers was awarded a $174,600 OMG Books grant for its multistate initiative to provide funding directly to new educators through the First Book Marketplace so they can purchase books for classrooms and spark their students’ interest in reading and learning.

“This is like manna from heaven. Research shows that 44 percent of new teachers quit in the first five years, with many citing lack of support as one of the main reasons,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “The AFT’s OMG Books proposal is one of the ways our union is combating this crisis in our profession by providing tangible resources, as well as ongoing support through funding, professional development and mentoring to our newest members.”

In the grant request, AFT proposed providing $50 to $250 in First Book Marketplace credits as well as building “online communities” for new teachers on the AFT’s Share My Lesson e-learning platform, which will provide ongoing online and in-person professional development, mentoring, collaboration with other teachers and classroom support.

“AFT’s multistate initiative provides unprecedented support for brand-new teachers working in Title I schools, with books and resources designed to help every teacher build on the promise of education for their students,” said Kyle Zimmer, president, CEO and co-founder of First Book. “Not only will this collaborative effort enrich classrooms in high-need communities across the country—from Louisiana and Maryland and from Puerto Rico to West Virginia—as new members of the First Book Network, those educators will have the ability to elevate and amplify their voice to drive the very resources their students need for years to come.”

The $174,600 award given to the AFT is the largest multistate OMG grant provided by First Book. The AFT is working with its state and local affiliates to distribute the funding to new teachers and paraprofessionals in eight states and Puerto Rico. The levels of OMG Books grant funding are:

  • Connecticut: $20,000
  • Louisiana: $18,000
  • Maryland: $8,000
  • Massachusetts: $25,000
  • Missouri: $20,000
  • New Mexico: $1,100
  • Ohio: $50,000
  • Puerto Rico: $22,000
  • West Virginia: $10,500

In addition to the AFT multistate award, several AFT affiliates in Massachusetts, New York and Texas and their partners received OMG Books funding through their own state-level initiatives.

In May, three AFT affiliates—AFT Utah, Jefferson County AFT, and North Dakota United—received funding for their state-level initiatives as well, including providing diverse and bilingual books to Title I classrooms and to a student-mentoring group called Latinos in Action in Utah; distributing take-home books for students and building classroom collections in rural schools in North Dakota; and fighting summer learning loss by supporting summer reading programs, partnering with the Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Parks and Recreation to provide books to students and families in need in Jefferson County, Ala.

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The AFT represents 1.7 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.