New Welcoming Library: Cart Collection Launched with 26 Grant-funded Carts for Maine

10 “Welcoming Library: Cart Collections” with 900 Books Gifted to Bangor Schools

Bangor, Maine—In front of hundreds of fourth and fifth-grade students at Fairmont School, I’m Your Neighbor Books, Bangor school officials, and the Maine Department of Education, announced the delivery of 900 books featuring Immigrant and New Generation families to Bangor schools.

Thanks to the generous support of the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation and the Maine Community Foundation’s Community Building Grant, a Welcoming Library: Cart Collection will be placed in each of Bangor’s 10 schools.

”In recognition of Bangor becoming an official refugee resettlement city, two Maine foundations stepped forward to fund immigration-themed book collections for Bangor Schools. With a $25,000 grant award from the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation and a $10,000 Community Building grant award from the Maine Community Foundation, I’m Your Neighbor Books is placing 90 books and a book cart engraved with the invitation, ‘Read to Welcome. Read to Belong.’ in each Bangor School,” said I’m Your Neighbor Books Executive Director Kirsten Cappy.

The announcement event featured a student-led reading of I’m an American by Darshana Khiani and illustrated by Laura Freeman. The book is included in the Welcoming Library and provides an honest depiction of the complexity and work needed to hold up the values of this nation.

Charles Mugabe of Catholic Charities of Maine Refugee and Immigrant Services encouraged students to be welcoming superheroes and to marvel at the heroic resilience of Maine immigrants. To further celebrate refugee resilience, I’m Your Neighbor Books gave away 50 graphic novels to Bangor students and staff.

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DOE Gifts 16 Additional “Welcoming Library: Cart Collections” with 960 Books + Teacher Training to Maine Schools

At the event, the Maine DOE and I’m Your Neighbor Books also announced the new PINE Project. This program will provide no-cost Welcoming Libraries to 16 schools across Maine. Each library contains 60 books allowing Immigrant and New Generation students to see themselves and their families reflected in classroom materials and inviting all students to build their welcoming skills through literature.

“We’re excited to partner with I’m Your Neighbor Books to bring these libraries to schools across Maine and support teachers in bringing this content to life in their classrooms. As Maine welcomes more immigrant and New American families, it’s incredibly important that students see themselves and their families represented in the books in their school libraries. These books also encourage all students to create a welcoming environment and appreciate the incredible diversity in our communities and nation,” said Maine Education Commissioner Pender Makin.

Educators from across the state applied to the Pine Project. Selected educators will receive Welcoming Library: Cart Collections and participate in a series of 2024 workshops hosted by I’m Your Neighbor Books. The workshops will use the cart’s picture books to further teacher training on Social Emotional Learning and the themes embedded in the books. Stories featuring the emotional resiliency of Immigrant and New Generation families will form the basis for exploring the resiliency of all Maine students.

The collaborative work of the educators selected from 16 Maine schools and the workshop leaders will culminate in a series of professional development videos that I’m Your Neighbor Books and the Maine Department of Education will use with educators in Maine and share across the nation.

The 16 Maine schools selected for the PINE Project include Fourteenth St. School in Bangor, Biddeford Intermediate School, Kate Furbish Elementary School in Brunswick, Central Community Elementary School in Corinth, Mast Landing School in Freeport, George B Weatherbee School in Hampden, Jonesport Elementary School, Thomas J McMahon Elementary School in Lewiston, Sebasticook Elementary School in Newport, Oxford Elementary School, Pembroke Elementary School, East End Community School in Portland, Gerald E. Talbot Community School in Portland, C.K. Burns School in Saco, Mt. View Elementary School in Thorndike, and Canal Elementary School in Westbrook.

ESSERF (CRRSA and Emergency) funds received from the US Department of Education (USDOE) supported the implementation of the PINE Project. The project has an award totaling $119,041.16.

One Response to “New Welcoming Library: Cart Collection Launched with 26 Grant-funded Carts for Maine”

  1. Kathy Dorko

    I would like more information on how a district can apply for the Welcome Library.