Book-Rich Environments Initiative (BRE)

The National Center for Families and Learning (NCFL), the National Book Foundation (NBF), the Urban Libraries Council (ULC), the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are joining forces to transform the Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) into book-rich environments.

The BRE Initiative is a collaboration aimed to transform PHAs into book rich environments by providing diverse, high quality books and other literacy tools to children and families living in HUD-assisted housing to improve literacy outcomes and ensure all young people, regardless of background, have the tools they need to reach their full potential. This work will be done through partnerships between PHAs, public libraries and other local and national education partners.

Nearly 4 million low-income children are living in HUD-assisted housing across the country. Improving their educational outcomes is essential to improving their life trajectories and launching them towards success. BRE hopes to encourage the love of reading and to improve educational outcomes of children living in HUD-assisted housing in participating communities.


1. Distributing free, high quality, diverse books to children living in HUD-assisted housing.

2. Engaging children and families in the love of reading and literacy activities offered by the
local library and literacy partners.

3. Establishing partnerships between the local PHA, the local public library, and literacy partners to develop and deliver ongoing programming that will improve the educational outcomes of PHA residents. 

Major Components and Accomplishments of the BRE

1. Book Distribution - PHAs participating in BRE will partner with the public library in their community. The library will receive a set of high quality and diverse books, secured by the National Book Foundation, and donated by national book publishers. The books will be designated for children who are residents of the local PHA. The number of books delivered to each site will be determined by that community's needs and capacity (e.g., the number of HUD-assisted residents in the community and the number of books the library branch can receive, store, and distribute throughout 2017).

The book distribution launch began in late Spring of 2017 and included three local distribution events in each community.

• Your Public Library, Your Second Home: Focused on introducing children and families to the local library and encouraging a love for reading (May-June 2017)
• Summer Fun and Learning: Focused on summer learning and engaging families in
literacy activities outside of the school year (July-August 2017)
• Leap Ahead at Your Library: Focused on going back to school and preparing for success
in the next grade level (October-November 2017)

2. Partnership Building – Participating communities utilized the launch events as a platform to engage local residents, and establish and maintain partnerships among the staffs of the local library, the PHA, local and national non-profits and foundations working on literacy, and the children and families living in HUD-assisted housing. The NCFL is mobilizing anchor partners including national education programs and the leading housing and education professional membership organizations that can help support ongoing local partnerships. Creating strong local partnerships is critical to ensure continued outreach and engagement of children and families living in HUD-assisted housing. Participating communities can also leverage existing cross-sector partnerships, such as their local MBK community efforts.

3. Library Engagement - Local libraries engaged kids and families in ongoing visits and opportunities. They encouraged all children and parents attending the book distribution event to get a library card for ongoing visits, give attendees a tour and explanation of all the resources a library has to offer, and encourage families to continue to utilize the library throughout the year. The library and PHA should also continue to partner to register families who were not in attendance for library cards and to promote strategies such as mobile libraries in public housing buildings and summer learning opportunities.

4. Measuring Impact - BRE aims to measure impact and overall success of local efforts. The BRE partnership will create a common set of indicators that will enable localities to track progress and tangible outcomes.

Click here to learn more about the Book-Rich Environments Initiative.

Resource Library
Useful Links
Videos & Presentations


BRE Resources
Contacts & Communication

General BRE inquiries, Local-Coalition Building and Webinars
Alicia Maldonado, Senior Consultant

Book Donations
Jordan Smith, Director of Education

Library Partnerships
Emily Samose, Director, Education and Learning Initiatives

School District inclusion and After School programming
Jocelyn Logan-Friend, Education Specialist

HUD PHA-related Outreach
Maria-Lana Queen, Liaison for Federal Interagency Youth Initiatives

For more information about BRE communications, BRE/Library partnerships, please contact Maria-Lana Queen at

BRE Spotlights