EDINBURG – The Molina Foundation recently donated 44,000 free new books – enough to fill a library shelf nearly a half-mile long – to students from the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District.

Children’s storybooks, activity books and work/study books in English and Spanish from a variety of publishers and authors, including the Maisy Mouse series from Candlewick Press, will be distributed over the coming weeks for learning levels from preschool to high school. The books have a total value of approximately $328,000.

“We are truly grateful for the generosity from the Molina Foundation to provide each of our students with free books,” Edinburg CISD Superintendent René Gutiérrez said. “Our librarians did complete a grant application giving them an opportunity to request books that would meet the needs at each of our campuses.  These books will also provide a great opportunity for parents and students to read together.”

The donation effort, titled Launch into Learning for the RGV (Lanza de Libros para el RGV), was part of a family literacy campaign for the Rio Grande Valley presented by the Foundation to help give children and families a learning boost during the holiday season and as the new year begins.

Research shows that South Texas continues to have significant academic achievement gaps — including competency in basic reading skills — between children in poverty and their better off peers. There is a strong correlation between illiteracy and its impact on a community’s socio-economic progress.

“We care deeply about helping children in their academic and personal achievement,” said Foundation President and Founder Dr. Martha Bernadett about the literacy campaign for South Texas. “And we know that with the aid of supportive business partners and help from local community volunteers, giving out learning materials can have a wonderfully positive impact on the kids and their families.”

The Molina Foundation, a national nonprofit organization, is dedicated to the mission of reducing disparities in access to education and health. Since its inception in 2004, the Foundation has worked with more than 2,000 organizations and schools towards this end, donating more than 4 million books and hosting hundreds of workshops and programs for educators and low-income families.