The United Way of West Ellis County, a non-profit organization that raises funds to support charitable causes, beat out more than 100 other organizations to snag a book grant award to fund two local reading programs.

The United Way said the grant secured $1,000 worth of books for the Avalon and Milford school districts’ reading programs. The districts serve more than 500 students altogether, from pre-kindergarten to grade 12.

“With this award, we will be able to bring new, high-quality books to the kids in Ellis County,” said Kasey Cheshier, United Way of West Ellis County’s executive director, in a press release. “This will make a tangible difference as we work to spark a love of reading and enable the book access which is essential to learning.”

“The United Way has been a great partner to us over the years,” added Alton Chambers, the Milford Independent School District’s curriculum counselor. “We appreciate the assistance they provide to this community and the other programs that serve Ellis County.”

First Book, an international nonprofit organization that provides basic necessities, new books and educational resources to educators serving children in need, granted the award to United Way as part of it’s OMG Books Awards: Offering More Great Books to Spark Innovation program.

The program “will give more than $4.7 million in funding to distribute 1.5 million brand new books and eBooks to children living in low-income communities in 33 U.S. states and territories,” according to the press release. “Texas was among nine states in the first cycle of awards. Additional awards will be granted throughout 2019.”

The books supplied to the school districts were selected from the First Book Marketplace. The online resource is only available to schools and organizations that serve children in need.

“We know that access to books and eBooks makes a significant difference in a child’s future success,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book’s president, CEO and cofounder, in the press release. “Children do not thrive in deeply under-resourced environments and too many of the schools and programs have far too little. This deprivation has long-term consequences for the children, their families, their communities and our nation. This could not be more urgent. With the OMG Books Awards, First Book and the United Way of West Ellis County are investing not only in the future of the kids we’re reaching, but in the overall well-being of our nation.”

For more information on First Book, visit firstbook.org.