Bush’s ’09 Budget Eliminates RIF Funding
by Kevin Howell — Publishers Weekly, 4/17/2008 8:08:00 AM
President Bush’s proposed 2009 budget eliminates all the funding for Reading Is Fundamental‘s
book distribution program that has, since 1966, provided more than 325
million books to more than 30 million underprivileged children.
"With 13 million children living in poverty in this country, the need for RIF has never been greater," said RIF
CEO/president Carol Rasco, The annually funded RIF program is currently
approved through September 2009, but if Bush’s budget is approved, 4.6
million children will not receive 16 million free books the following
year. RIF, the oldest and largest children’s and family nonprofit
literacy organization in the U.S, has been funded by Congress and six
Administrations without interruption since 1975.
"With a recent report showing a declining interest in reading among
adults and teens, supporting children’s literacy is critical to
reversing this trend.," said Rasco.
"We received $26.6 million in federal funding in 2007 and we’re
requesting $26 million this year," said Frank Walter, RIF’s director of
marketing/PR, adding that 75% of funds are provided by federal
grants and 25% is raised locally by RIF’s 19,000 volunteer outlets that
distribute books at childcare centers, schools or migrant work
programs. Ninety percent of the organization’s funds go to purchasing
new books for lower income children and for motivational reading
activities that take place during RIF’s book distribution.
RIF’s Web site (www.RIF.org) provides a link for supporters to find their senator and representative and send an email message
to them and President Bush in support of continued funding. The
appropriation committee will be meeting in May and June to decide on
James Patterson’s recent blog
urged fans to visit RIF’s site and voice their concerns. "RIF, if you
don’t know, is one of the pioneers of kid-directed book distribution
programs," Patterson wrote. "I’ve already reached out. Do you think you
might take a couple minutes to reach out to your congresspersons?
Infusing a love of books in our own kids is challenging enough . . .
imagine how hard it is to do in families without our resources and
level of education."
This is the second time the Bush administration has tried to cut
RIF’s funding. Bush’s first budget proposal in 2001 originally allotted
no money for the organization. "There was an uproar across the country
and it was reinstated," said Walter.
Ironically, while President Bush continually overlooks the
organization, both his wife and mother have held positions within the
organization. Barbara Bush served on RIF’s Board of Directors from 1980
to 1988 and then on its National Advisory Board from 1989 to 1992
(chairing the Advisory Board for three of the four years.) Laura Bush
served on RIF’s National Advisory Council from 1996 to 2001.
We now return to temporarily lurking, hovering, and not posting.