Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Extreme Makeover: Target Revamps Ailing School Libraries

MINNEAPOLIS — Target and The Heart of America Foundation will officially kick-off the Target Volunteers School Library Makeover program with the unveiling of one of sixteen extreme school library transformations in New York City on September 10, in support of the United We Serve nationwide service initiative. The additional unveilings, along with even more school donations, will happen across the country throughout September and October, just in time for the new school year.

With ongoing school budget cuts, the Target Volunteers School Library Makeover program helps schools provide better resources to tens of thousands of kids who need it most. In fact, studies show that students benefit from a strong school library media program, and when compared to students without one, score much higher on standardized tests.

In response to this growing need from schools and building on last year's program launch of eight school makeovers, Target awarded sixteen schools with a complete library transformation, which included over 2,000 new books, advanced technology, new furnishings, shelving, paint, carpeting, and light construction. In addition, Target has incorporated eco-friendly designs and construction practices into each library makeover, including the use of green certified furniture in partnership with Paragaon and Smith Systems and the use of recycled materials in all locations. Also, Target will gift every student from the sixteen schools with seven brand new books to add to their personal at-home reading collection. In all, more than 750,000 new books have been distributed since the program's inception.

"The Target Volunteers School Library Makeover program combines our commitment to education and volunteerism, two of our key areas of focus when it comes to giving to the local communities our stores serve," said Laysha Ward, president, community relations, Target. "It's a wonderful opportunity for Target team members across the nation to come together and meet the needs of the community, as well as to equip local schools with the best educational supplies and facilities possible."

The Target Property Development team provided specialized business knowledge through a variety of unique pro bono services, which included leveraging their design, construction and project management expertise to help with the significant updates to the libraries.

"Through our partnership with Target, we are able to increase the magnitude of our giving nationally, ensuring schools throughout the country have the basic resources they need to help their students," said Angie Halamandaris, president, The Heart of America Foundation. "The library is the place in every school where learning is inspired, and by working with Target, we are able to give that gift of passion for education to those who need it most."

In addition to the sixteen fortunate schools that received a complete library makeover, many more will receive help from Target as well. This year, more than 1,600 Target stores and Distribution Centers provided a $500 book award through First Book to a local school of their choice to fund the purchase of books and reading supplies for the fall - just in time to kick-off the new school year.

To see a listing of all the schools benefiting from Target Volunteers School Library Makeovers or view a time lapse video of a makeover in action, visit Target's Web site.

Target identified a need in the community and met the need with consideration to every detail. They ensured students accessibility to books to read at home and improved school libraries' selection and environment. Target whole-heartedly engaged in this cause. Not only did they address a need, but they used a variety of means to do so — from hard dollars to many volunteer hours. It is refreshing to see a company immerse themselves so completely in a cause.

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