Kumon bolsters nationwide drive to provide books to more children

Kumon Math and Reading Centers hosted its third National Book Month book drive in 2009, inviting its centers nationwide to collect books to donate to a local organization of their choice.

Client: Kumon Math and Reading Centers (Teaneck, NJ)
PR team: Internal
Campaign: National Book Month
Duration: October-November 2009
Budget: $20,000

Kumon Math and Reading Centers hosted its third National Book Month book drive in 2009, inviting its centers nationwide to collect books to donate to a local organization of their choice.

The goal of the effort was not only to help the local communities, but also to build strong character and life skills among the students, explains Jenny Cherrytree, director of PR for Kumon North America.

Strategy
Kumon increased its PR efforts around the program in 2009. Additionally, its new North American president, Hideki Kusuzawa, is focusing more on giving back, Cherrytree says.

"The main message was the importance of providing books to children," she adds. "Right now in America, the ratio of age-appropriate books for children in low-income neighborhoods is one book to every 300 children."

Tactics
More than 115 of Kumon's 1,311 local centers spread the word in their communities through word of mouth and media relations.

Kumon's national PR team of five worked with the centers on media outreach and encouraged them to develop their own ways to build awareness, such as story hours.

During a dedication ceremony, Kumon donated 350 books to a homeless shelter in the Bronx, NY.

Results
Kumon collected 12,000 books, more than triple the 4,000 it raised in 2008, and donated to 60 organizations nationwide. "Our goal was maybe to add 1,000 books," Cherrytree says.

Local media outlets covered the drive, including Tulsa World, the Canton (OH) Repository, and The Bronx Times.

Future
Cherrytree says Kumon is "already talking about next year and how to use social media to drive awareness and interest."

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