D51 Foundation seeking funds for Nooks

The School District 51 Foundation hopes to raise more than $100,000 by the end of this year to purchase Nook e-readers for third- through fifth-graders in District 51 schools.

The nonprofit foundation raises money for technology, reading, college preparation and workforce development tools and programs in District 51.

The Nook project meets the first two criteria and aims to place 500 of the e-readers in local elementary schools.

About $34,000 of the more than $50,000 the foundation has raised since the beginning of last year has been raised specifically for the Nook project, according to Foundation Coordinator Jennifer Hensel Hildebrandt. The foundation hopes to get 51 businesses to commit $2,000 to the project but also is accepting donations of varying sizes from private donors.

Each Nook will be loaded with at least six digital books before they are distributed for students to use at schools.

Hensel Hildebrandt said the foundation board wanted to bring e-readers into schools for budding readers because kids think the technology is “cool” and the e-reader format can help struggling students gain confidence.

“Technology can help reduce social stigmas. If you’re reading a picture book and everybody else in your class is reading a chapter book, you’re going to be less excited to read. With the Nooks, nobody can really tell what you’re reading,” Hensel Hildebrandt said.

E-readers also allow students to enlarge print if they have visual difficulties. And because no one can see how far a student is in an e-book like they can with a paperback, Hensel Hildebrandt said students feel more comfortable reading at their own pace on a Nook.

Hensel Hildebrandt said the foundation chose Nooks over Amazon’s Kindle e-reader because Amazon does not have in-person support. The foundation will purchase the Nooks through Barnes & Noble, which can provide local support. Plus, she said the store plans to give the foundation a discount.

Traditional books cost more than digital copies, although e-readers require a greater initial investment. Hensel Hildebrandt said she hopes the foundation’s purchase of the Nooks will help the district save money on hardback and paperback books, which have to be routinely replaced due to wear and tear.

“We wanted to focus on a project that would be tangible and show results. We believe the more impact we make the more success we’ll have in the future,” Hensel Hildebrandt said.

The foundation launched a new website this month, http://www.d51foundation.org, and will soon begin sending electronic monthly newsletters to anyone who signs up for them on the site.

The site also has a link for making an online donation. Donations can be sent through the mail to District 51 Foundation, 2115 Grand Ave., Grand Junction 81501.


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