Since 2005, the Franklin Center maintains an Embassy Youth Book Program to provide books in Spanish to poor and remote communities in the DR. To date approximately 10,000 books have been distributed through the Peace Corps volunteers in more than 64 rural communities. In most cases the volunteers have established the very first library ever in his or her community. In communities where there was some kind of library, the books that existed were antiquated, in poor condition, and of little interest to the kids and the general population.
The book sets consist of three different collections: a primary and secondary level set on history, biographies, geography science, fiction and sports, and a reference collection that includes an encyclopedia set and dictionaries, and books about U.S. history, geography, biographies, holidays, basic science, and popular culture (art, film, and sports).
The volunteers receiving donations are introducing the students of different grade level to books that they were never exposed to in the past. This book program contributes to the advancement of the community’s reading abilities by helping to stimulate and build appreciation for reading.
Not only have the volunteers designed creative programs to make reading fun for their community, but some have also used the books to show teachers how they can use them in their classes. Many volunteers have also set up adult literacy programs, helping to open up a whole new world to many people. In some communities PC volunteers have recruited members of the community to help maintain the reading programs, do fund-raising and care the books.