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DNC Host Committee Donates $750,000 to Philadelphia Literacy Program

The 2016 Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention is donating $750,000 to a Philadelphia reading program geared toward putting libraries in K-3 classrooms.

The donation will allow the district to buy nearly 80,000 new books for 150 students in kindergarten through 3rd grade as part The Right Books Campaign, which aims to expand libraries in classrooms across the city, the district said in a statement.

District superintendent William Hite said the donation "will have a direct and long lasting impact on increasing early literacy among our youngest students."

"By the end of the next school year, all core K-3 classrooms in the city will have a leveled classroom library with the right books to succeed," Hite said. "Research shows that getting the right books in the right hands at the right time can have a huge impact on a student's likelihood to graduate and their lifelong learning process."

The Right Books Campaign, launched in 2015 by The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia, is part of a larger effort to have every young city student reading at grade level by the time he or she enters 4th grade.  In addition to expanding the availability of books, the initiative also hopes to put trained early literacy specialists in every K-3 classroom.

The program has a fundraising goal of $3.5 million. The new donation will help close a funding gap in the program, the district said.

So far 300,000 books have been placed in 1,209 classrooms across the city, and more than 1,000 teachers have been trained in literacy, according to the district.

The committee had already donated laptops, iPhones, iPads, desktop computers, and other supplies to the city's schools. 

Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, the committee's chair, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that there was no doubt that any leftover funds from the convention would go to the school district.

"We wanted to have a significant impact through the convention on the Philadelphia community," he told the paper. "It's a bow on the entire convention process."

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