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Greater New Orleans

First Book provides new books to children in need, addressing one of the most important factors affecting literacy – access to books. An innovative leader in social enterprise, First Book has distributed more than 100 million free and low-cost books to disadvantaged children and the programs that serve them.

First Book-Greater New Orleans, was organized in 2001 and reorganized in 2007 following Hurricane Katrina. We are working to end the literacy crisis in New Orleans by increasing children’s access to books. We raise funds locally and select programs in Orleans and surrounding parishes as First Book grantees. Grantees use the funds provided by First Book-Greater New Orleans to select books from the First Book Marketplace at significant discounts.

. First Book–Greater New Orleans provides free books and educational materials to  daycare centers, preschools, after-school programs, teachers’ classrooms, tutoring programs, etc. to reach disadvantaged children in Orleans and surrounding parishes. New books chosen by program leaders working directly with children are incorporated into program lessons, and then given to the children to take home and keep.

Since the reorganization in 2007, First Book-Greater New Orleans has worked with more than 175 existing community programs to distribute over 150,000 brand new books to underprivileged children with little or no access to books.

Most recent data describes a shocking gap in access to reading materials: “While the ratio of books to children in middle-income neighborhoods is approximately 13 books per child, the ratio in low-income neighborhoods is 1 book per 300 children.” In Orleans Parish, 40.5% of children under 18 were living in low-income neighborhoods before Hurricane Katrina (U.S. Census, 2000). In 2006, 53% of Orleans Parish fourth graders and 63% of eighth graders scored below the basic literacy level on the standardized LEAP test (LA Department of Education, 2007). By providing children with books they can take home and keep, First Book–Greater New Orleans targets the only variable that correlates significantly with reading scores—the number of books in the home.

“Access to books and educational material is the single biggest barrier to literacy development in the United States and beyond. If we can solve the problem of access, we will be well on the road to realizing educational parity – a goal which has eluded this country for generations.”-- Susan B. Neuman, Ph.D. University of Michigan, Ctr. for Improvement of Early Reading Achievement

 With the reduction of poverty in the New Orleans area, post-Katrina, (and the overall reduction of poverty in the region), the suburbs are now home to the vast majority of poor in South­east Louisiana. Between 1999 and 2008-10, the share of the region’s poor living in suburbs increased from 56 percent to 67 percent. The cities of New Orleans and Houma now have 87,000 impoverished residents, while the suburbs of Southeast Louisiana have 174,000 impoverished residents according to the GNOCDC: Poverty in Southeast Louisiana.

Apply For Grants

Please do not apply for more than one class. Incomplete applcations will not be considered. Grant cannot be used for school libraries.

The deadline for our next grant cycle is Friday, September 26, 2014 at 5 p.m. Grant applications must be emailed only to or

To download a grant application, click Grant applications.

To download the St. Bernard Parish Grant Application


First Book-Greater New Orleans

PO Box 50394
New Orleans, LA 70150

Phone: 504-309-6012               Fax: 504-309-6014

Grant Recipients

First Book-Greater New Orleans has given book grants to many programs in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. Charles and St. John Parishes. A typical book grant lasts for a six month period and offers each child in the program a steady diet of books (usually one book per month), all at no cost to the program. Because program administrators select the titles from the First Book Marketplace, our book grants enable programs — often for the first time — to select books to integrate into curriculum.


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