3,301 Books Given out to Maine First Graders

BANGOR, ME – (July, 16, 2020) – Dirigo Reads cofounders Dan and Karen Cashman are pleased to announce the release of the 2019 Dirigo Reads annual report, highlighting the success of the program’s first year.

Dirigo Reads began July 1, 2019 with the goal of putting a book in the hands of every Maine first grader each month during the school year by 2025. In September, the Cashmans launched the program in six Maine schools:  The Adams School in Castine, Brewer Community School, Madison Elementary, Rose M. Gaffney Elementary School in Machias, SeDoMoCha in Dover-Foxcroft, and Teague Park Elementary in Caribou. Between September 2019 – June 2020, Dirigo Reads distributed 3,301 books to approximately 330 students.

The Cashmans shared in their letter, “It takes mutual trust to start a program, and we want to sincerely thank the six schools who opened their doors to us. Not only did these schools warmly welcome us but they have been fabulous collaborators, especially when the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic hit and students had to be sent home mid-year. These schools rallied to devise a plan to ensure none of their first graders went a month during the academic year without receiving a new Dirigo Reads book.”

Allison Kahkonen, PK-4 principal at Brewer Community School, commented, “What is so great about this program, is that it helps to bridge the gap between students that have books at home, and those who do not. By increasing access to high quality books for all kids, every month, during a critical year for literacy development, Dirigo Reads is making a huge difference in the reading lives of our first grade learners.”

In February, the Cashmans announced that they are looking to add approximately 20 additional schools for the 2020-2021 academic school year. A finalized list of participating schools will be available in August.

Dirigo Reads is made possible with the help of their financial partners, including the program’s Dirigo Star Founding Partner, Machias Savings Bank, as well as Bangor Savings Bank, Cross Insurance, The First National Bank, and Northern Light Health. Dirigo Reads is also supported by United Way of Eastern Maine and Sutherland Weston.

“We are proud to be a part of Dirigo Reads and help create a solid foundation of literacy skills for Maine students,” said Melissa Denbow, VP, Corporate Giving and Community Relations at Machias Savings Bank. “For this program to put more than 3,300 new books in first graders’ homes throughout Maine in its first year is impressive. We are excited to see what the future holds for Dirigo Reads.”To read Dirigo Read’s 2019 report, go to www.DirigoReads.org/2019Report