Last year we mailed 3,901 packages of books and blank journals to women in prison around the country—9,700 or so books in all and 591 blank journals. That’s 13% more than in 2015.
On top of that, our 100% volunteer team worked hard to improve our processes, as well as educate others about the need we help to fill. Last year we:
- Planned and conducted focus groups with women at Logan Correctional Center and Cook County Jail, thanks to funding by the Illinois Humanities Council and Crossroads Fund. We’re compiling and analyzing our findings now, so watch for our report early this year.
- Added a quality control step to our process—ensuring that every book selected is the best match possible for a specific woman’s request.
- Hosted the Chicago premiere of First Degree, a new documentary on prison education. Look for it on PBS this year.
But we couldn’t have done any of this without friends who helped in these and many other ways:
- Donating money for postage and rent (postage is about 82% of our total budget and rising as we serve more women each year)
- Providing us with much needed books and blank journals
- Purchasing special requests from our Amazon Wish List
We appreciate everyone who joined us at any of our several community events, including:
- The reading and discussion with Maya Schenwar and Crystal Laura at Evanston Public Library, in collaboration with CLAIM/Cabrini Green Legal Aid
- Poetry from the Inside, a poetry reading—featuring poetry by nine of the women we serve—in collaboration with the Poetry Center of Chicago and Free Write Arts & Literacy
- Tabling at Chicago Zine Fest, Printers Row Lit Fest and Ravenswood ArtWalk
And we’re grateful to everyone who attended one of our fundraising events:
Finally, we really appreciate our online community, including everyone who follows us on Facebook (30% more followers than last year) and Twitter (53% more followers). We’ve connected with so many terrific people and organizations this way.
Please keep up with us as we aim to do even more in 2017. People in prison have little or no access to books, and as long as there’s the need, we’re committed to providing the pleasure and power of books.