Bush Plans to Eliminate RIF Program

Posted on April 21, 2008

President Bush's 2009 budget will eliminate funding for RIF, the Reading is Fundamental program which provides books and encourages reading for impoverished children.
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 and 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.

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Author James Patterson's recent blog post 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."
We are appalled. This is not a part of the budget that needs to be cut. But to stop it, it's important to write your congressperson and your senators. RIF's website is here. You can find your representatives here.

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