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Foundation – What We Do

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The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.

Our Purpose

The Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation serves as the vehicle through which private funds are used to enhance the Cedar Rapids Public Library’s collections, programs, and technologies while supporting the Library’s Strategic Initiatives of Literacy, Access, and Inclusion.

How the Foundation Supports Our Library

We’re building confident caregivers, creating a culture of literacy and inspiring innovative experiences.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Research shows that children who grow up with books in their home will achieve three more years of education than those who do not. Our Imagination Library provides Cedar Rapids children one free, age-appropriate book per month from birth to their 5th birthday, regardless of income. These high-quality books are mailed to the child’s home with the child’s name on it. Children enrolled at birth will have 60 personalized books in their home before they reach kindergarten, promoting early Literacy and kindergarten readiness.

Preschool Outreach

Library staff use the Every Child Ready to Read curriculum during story times inside and outside our Library. Through monthly story times at preschools serving low-income children, Library staff engage children in the five early literacy practices of Sing, Talk, Read, Write, and Play. These pre and early literacy skills are essential for future success. Since 1990, this program has provided story time books for the children to take home in addition to snacks for special events such as parent-teacher meetings and graduation ceremonies. The preschool outreach program supports early Literacy and provides Access to library services for families who might struggle to make it through our doors.

Summer Dare Program

Our Library’s Summer Dare is an intergenerational program that combines reading with activities that encourage lifelong learning. In 2018, Summer Dare Everywhere partnered with Kids on Course University, YMCA day camps, and Cedar Rapids Boys & Girls Club to engage nearly 1,100 children in summer reading and learning activities. These collaborations support Literacy, Access, and Inclusion for all during the summer months when children struggling in school are most vulnerable. Through data sharing agreements with Cedar Rapids Community Schools, we will study the program’s effect on preventing summer slide.

We’re bridging the opportunity gap, connecting with community, and becoming a community catalyst.

Summer Dare Program

Our Library’s Summer Dare is an intergenerational program that combines reading with activities that encourage lifelong learning. In 2018, Summer Dare Everywhere partnered with Kids on Course University, YMCA day camps, and Cedar Rapids Boys & Girls Club to engage nearly 1,100 children in summer reading and learning activities. These collaborations support Literacy, Access, and Inclusion for all during the summer months when children struggling in school are most vulnerable. Through data sharing agreements with Cedar Rapids Community Schools, we will study the program’s effect on preventing summer slide.

Book Club Facilitators

Our Library maintains more than 100 book club kits that are available to the public and used by the Library’s off-site book clubs. The Library Foundation provides funding for two book club facilitators who, since 2004, have led monthly discussions at Cottage Grove Place and Meth-Wick Community to promote Literacy and lifelong learning. Working with our community partners, the program offers Access to library service to seniors who may struggle to get to the library on their own.

We’re championing lifelong learning, telling our story, and delighting our customers.

Video Streaming and More

Hoopla is a digital media service that features movies, music, audiobooks, eBooks, comics, and TV shows. Hoopla’s vast catalog allows expanded diversity in resources to support the Library’s efforts in providing Inclusion and representation in our collection. Patrons can access content through phones, tablets, or smart TVs, allowing Access to Library materials anywhere. Hoopla offers a wide variety of materials without the need for holds lists.

Books & Materials

The Library’s books and materials are the consumables that keep our patrons engaged and equipped with well cared-for and maintained literature, videos, music, e-books, and more. The Foundation has helped enhance the Library’s commitment to Literacy collections through donor gifts since 1985.

Library Staff Development

The Foundation funds annual Library staff development as well as Library staff and volunteer appreciation and recognition. In fiscal year 2019, the Library worked on Organizational Health initiatives through Brene Brown’s Daring Leaders curriculum and hosted a Library 101 training for cross-department connection and collaboration.

FOCUS Newsletters

In spring 2010, the Friends and the Foundation published their first combined newsletter inspired by the creativity and collaboration in the air at the Library. By joining publications, we hope to inform Library supporters better while avoiding multiple mailings. Friends content includes information concerning all the activities, projects and volunteer opportunities that the Friends have to offer.

The Foundation pages highlight new library programs or purchases that were made possible by private contributions and promote other fundraising efforts intended to help grow the reach of the Cedar Rapids Public Library in our community.