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 Franklin Elementary is a school in Southeast San Jose with over 83% of families are socioeconomically disadvantaged, and about 13% of the students are unhoused. The library itself, like so many we work with, was neglected and in desperate need of new books, reorganization, and some TLC. The principal, Ms. Ravo, was thrilled to learn of Access Books Bay Area and the services we provide, especially considering that the school had suffered a 17% budget cut for this school year. She was very enthusiastic about having brand-new books to support their focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion and creating a library that reflects not just their students, but their school’s values.

On a Saturday in October, over 50 volunteers came together to process over 1500 new books for the library and paint four stunning colorful murals in the library. The energy and ideas of Principal Ravo inspired the participation of many families and staff members of the school. Even the school’s custodian on duty was inspired to join in the painting, and the next week brought his co-workers into the library to show off his artistic contribution!

Over the weeks before and after, Access Books Bay Area staff weeded and completely reorganized the library in a way that makes it easier for students to browse and find books. We provided new signage, a colorful rug and teacher chair. The new murals brighten the library, make it more cheerful for the students. We provided 2,000 gently used books to help teachers to build their classroom libraries. The end result for the students at Franklin Elementary is a vastly improved selection of high quality and culturally relevant books to read, a homey and welcoming library, and increased excitement to read.

“We could not be more grateful to Access Books Bay Area for the library refresh. For the past three years our school has been working on our newly written vision of “celebrating differences” through focusing on our culturally sustaining pedagogy and a huge part of that is incorporating books and stories that represent our students’ cultures and backgrounds. Unfortunately, as much as we love books, they are not cheap, especially the culturally relevant and sustaining ones. We are trying to teach our students to take pride in themselves and their backgrounds so that they can advocate for themselves in this society. With the grant from Access Books Bay Area, we were not only able to make our library look more inviting to students and representative of our values, but we were able to refresh the books we have so that students can find themselves in the books they’re reading. Access Books Bay Area was great to work with along the process, as they listened to us, our needs, and our values to create a library space that represents us as a school community and who we want to be for our students and families. They worked side by side with our community volunteers to empower our students and families to create a space that students choose to go to for fun during their breaks, increasing the sense of belonging for our students. Thank you for helping us create this space for our students so they can feel represented, seen and valued!!”

-Kristina Ravo, School Principal, Franklin Elementary, San Jose

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