HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Public Television, in collaboration with the United Way of Pennsylvania, has been selected to receive an award of $170,000 for new books and eBooks. This award will extend the mission of both organizations, providing greater access to books for children in low-income districts. First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise focused on equal access to quality education for children in need, awarded the funds as part of its OMG Books Awards: Offering More Great Books to Spark Innovation, a program that will give more than $4.7 million in funding to distribute 1.5 million brand new books and eBooks to children living in low-income communities in 33 U.S. states and territories.
“Pennsylvania Public Television stations understand the magic of characters like Daniel Tiger, Big Bird and Curious George. We also understand the magic that happens for a child when they read with someone who cares for them,” said Ron Hetrick, President & CEO of WITF, one of the seven stations a part of Pennsylvania Public Television. “In an effort to help our communities live inspired, we are thrilled to work with our partners at the United Way and First Book to help make magic of reading happen for more children in Pennsylvania.”
“First Book is helping public media partners and United Ways to resource proven local strategies which get free books into the hands of children of all ages from low-income communities across the state. Reading is the foundation for all learning, and books are the tool to develop those skills. We hope the books also encourage development of positive relationships with adults who will read First Book selections to young children, or help older children choose the next story they would like to read. Together we are changing Pennsylvania communities,” said Kristen Rotz, President of United Way of Pennsylvania.
Awardees are using the funding to select books and eBooks from the First Book Marketplace (www.fbmarketplace.com), First Book’s award-winning eCommerce platform, that best meet the needs of the children they serve. First Book estimates the total value of the books distributed will be more than $12 million.
“We know that access to books and eBooks makes a significant difference in a child’s future success,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book president, CEO, and cofounder. “Children do not thrive in deeply under-resourced environments and too many of the schools and programs have far too little. This deprivation has long-term consequences for the children, their families, their communities and our nation. This could not be more urgent. With the OMG Books Awards, First Book and Pennsylvania Public Television in collaboration with the United Way of Pennsylvania are investing not only in the future of the kids we’re reaching, but in the overall wellbeing of our nation.”
Access to adequate resources is one of the greatest contributors to educational success in the United States. 
Research indicates that just the presence of books in the home improves educational outcomes, yet low-income communities across the U.S. are plagued by vast ‘book deserts’—with one community having only a single book per as many as 830 children.2 Additionally, members of the First Book Network, who exclusively serve kids in need, have indicated that without First Book, the children they serve would have access to very few books, if any at all. 3 (References below).
Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up to receive resources from First Book outside of OMG Books Awards at firstbook.org/join. For more information, please visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.
 Sikora, et al. DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2018.10.003
2 Susan B. Neuman, Naomi Moland. “Book Deserts.” Urban Education, 2016. DOI: 10.1177/0042085916654525
3 First Book Member Survey, 2016
About Pennsylvania Public Television (PPT)
Pennsylvania Public Television consists of seven public television stations which bring PBS and educational events to Pennsylvania. Public television reaches over 2,300,000 persons per week reaching large diverse, rural and underserved audiences. Last year, nearly 1,400 teachers received training and over 200,000 students, parents, and teachers participated in educational events. Partner stations include WITF/Harrisburg, WHYY/Philadelphia, WLVT/Allentown, WVIA/Scranton, WPSU/State College, WQED/Pittsburgh, and WQLN/Erie.
About United Way of Pennsylvania
United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of every person in every community. In 2018, United Ways in Pennsylvania raised nearly $170 million for local communities. The United Way of Pennsylvania is a 501(c)(3) was created in 1966 as Community Services of PA, and was renamed in 1979. It is a membership organization whose purpose is to assist and champion the efforts of local United Ways in advancing the common good. Other charitable organizations known as United Funds or Community Chests also can be members of UWP.
UWP engages and connects local United Ways with resources that will help them address their community needs. UWP serves as the voice for 46 member United Ways across the commonwealth on state public policy issues that relate to community impact work in education, income and health.
About First Book
First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. Through sustainable, market-driven models, First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by making new, high-quality books and educational resources, including sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more, affordable to its member network of more than 400,000 registered educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more learning materials than any other program of its kind: 175 million books and educational resources, worth more than $1.5 billion, reaching more than 5 million children annually across the U.S. and Canada.
First Book also expands the breadth and depth of the education field through a family of social enterprises, including First Book Research & Insights, its proprietary research initiative, and the First Book Accelerator, which brings best-in-class research to the classroom via relevant, usable educator resources.
Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up at firstbook.org/join. For more information, please visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.