Wendy Guzman, Vermont Square Branch Friends of the Library

In Los Angeles, Wendy Guzman is on a mission to return volunteer run programming to the Vermont Square library. Motivated by personal tragedy, she is determined to ensure that young people in her community have equal access to the books and programs which help them to build a lifelong love of reading and learning.

Many research studies have demonstrated that socioeconomic factors have a huge impact on literacy levels, and that early literacy is key to future success. However, there is still little funding provided to libraries in order to help underserved communities access the resources that will help to level the playing field and ensure that children from all backgrounds can build the skills that will allow them to succeed throughout their lives. Accordingly, libraries throughout L.A. rely on volunteers to raise funds and run many of their most important programs.

Wendy, who has restarted the Friends of the Library program after a 10 year hiatus, is adamant that Vermont Square Library will be there for all children in the community, and through programs including preschool story time, summer reading programs, and more, she is determined to foster a lifelong love of learning in every child that she can possibly reach.

Recognizing that economic factors also prevent students from poorer backgrounds pursuing education, the Friends of the Library also intends to provide a scholarship fund to assist graduating high school seniors that have previously volunteered for the program, to use donated funds to assist children who have been part of the foster system purchase textbooks for college, and to start book clubs and reading rooms in local schools.

After connecting with Wendy through her own work to promote childhood literacy, Youth Leadership Team Leader Jamila Banks has selected Friends of Vermont Library to receive a $1000 grant to enable them to provide programming and run fundraising events.

Date grant awarded: August 21, 2016