Education

JetBlue’s Free Book Vending Machines Visit Detroit and D.C.

In 2011, JetBlue established the Soar with Reading program. Our goal? To encourage kids’ imaginations to take flight through reading, and to provide books to those most in need.

In 2016, we took our free book vending machines to Detroit with a goal of distributing 100,000 books in Detroit (and another 15,000 in Anacostia). This followed a successful 2015 pilot program in Anacostia, D.C. which was inspired by the research of childhood literacy expert Susan Neuman. Her 2001 study found that there was access to one age-appropriate book for every 300 children in underserved communities. We commissioned Susan to conduct another study in 2014, and the results were shocking. In Anacostia, a neighborhood close to our nation’s capital, young people had access to just one age-appropriate book for every 830 children.

As we continued to measure the impact of the program, we found that:

  • Parents in areas with book vending machines had more knowledge about their children’s reading habits compared to parents in areas without the machines.
  • Three out of four children with access to the vending machines scored higher on early literacy exams than before they had access to the machines.
  • Children with access to the machines showed higher reading readiness and early literacy development than those without such access, by knowing beginning sounds and basic concepts essential in developing comprehensive phonics skills.

Over six years, JetBlue has donated more than $1,750,000 worth of books, making a real difference to thousands of children. In 2017, we head to Fort Lauderdale, this year’s Book Battle winner, to provide access to books through our free book vending machines.

“As Soar with Reading continued to grow, we developed an advisory board of educators and community leaders and engaged our partners to determine specific needs and make a real impact. The resounding response was access to books. This year, we’re bringing free books to locations where children are already visiting to help kids build their own libraries and take pride in owning books.”

—Icema Gibbs, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility, JetBlue