Corporate donors help more than 135,000 Florida students receive books by supporting Florida’s at-home literacy program
Under the leadership of House Speaker Chris Sprowls, the Florida Legislature created the New Worlds Reading Initiative to be the largest literacy program of its kind in the U.S., delivering free books and supplementary learning resources to eligible K-5 students across the state. With more than half a million Florida children eligible for the initiative, lawmakers recognized the need for robust ongoing funding. To keep the initiative sustainable, a key funding source was identified: corporate donors committed to supporting their communities.
As the state-appointed administrator of the New Worlds Reading Initiative, the University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning is a registered Scholarship Funding Organization (SFO) that is eligible to accept tax credit contributions to support the initiative. Under the New Worlds Reading Initiative, corporate taxpayers can make monetary contributions to the UF Lastinger Center and receive dollar-for-dollar credit against select Florida taxes.
“We’re immeasurably grateful for the support of our donors,” said Dr. Shaunté Duggins, the assistant director of the New Worlds Reading Initiative. “Their generous contributions ensure we can partner with even more of Florida’s families to nurture a lifelong love of reading in our children. We believe that reading shapes who people are, and who they will become — that reading makes you, you.”
“Children and their success are at the heart of what we do,” said Dr. Phil Poekert, the director of the UF Lastinger Center. “We are proud and honored to administer the New Worlds Reading Initiative for the State of Florida. We are profoundly grateful for the generosity of our corporate partners that will ensure we can support Florida kids and their families for years to come.”
The University of Florida Lastinger Center has worked with companies across the state to secure support for the literacy program. In just a few short months since the program began, $50 million has already been raised across three years.
“It was an honor to stand beside our partners Wednesday as we celebrated the tremendous milestone of reaching $50 million in corporate sponsorships for the New Worlds Reading Initiative,” said Speaker Chris Sprowls. “The creativity of our Members in offering a tax credit to those who support our vision empowered us to reach this point, and none of it would have been possible without the dedicated leadership of Representative Trabulsy and Chair Latvala. Thank you to our sponsors for investing in our goal of getting every Florida child reading on grade level. Everyone who gathered with us Wednesday will have a transformational impact on our next generation, because when a child can read, they can learn, and when they can learn, the door to limitless possibilities is opened.“
An illustrious list of companies has donated thus far, including: Charter Communications, Duke Energy, Florida Power & Light, HCA Healthcare, Southern Eagle Distributing, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, TD SYNNEX, TECO, Tropical Shipping USA, LLC, and Walmart.
“Southern Eagle Distributing has always believed in supporting our community and helping to provide every opportunity for our children to succeed; we are happy to now add this great initiative to our efforts,” said Philip Busch, the president of Southern Eagle Distributing. “We applaud the hard work of Representative Dana Trabulsy in introducing this bill and Speaker Chris Sprowls for making it a top priority. With the launch of the New Worlds Reading Program, the future of our children becomes brighter.”