Target to Give $1 Billion in Support of Education

Retail company Target Corporation has announced its plans to donate more than $500 million by the end of 2015 to support education, doubling its support to-date, for a total of more than $1 billion.

The financial commitment is part of Target’s new reading initiative, Target Read With Me, aimed at helping more U.S. children read proficiently by the end of third grade.

Taking similar steps aimed at improving reading habits among children, recently the Advertising Council and the Library of Congress launched a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) to encourage parents to read with their children and inspire them to become lifelong learners. (Read: Ads will Push Parents to Read with Children)

Moreover, “The Nestle Share the Joy of Reading Program,” will donate up to $250,000 to Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), a nonprofit children’s literacy organization.

Actress, filmmaker and Access Hollywood special correspondent Maria Menounos read to children at the Los Angeles Public Library’s Robertson Branch to kickoff the program and celebrate National Literacy Month – September. (Read: Actress Maria Kicks Off Reading Program for Kids)

Also, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has decided to create a $100 Million Foundation — Startup: Education — to improve student success starting with Newark, New Jersey. (Read: Facebook Chief Zuckerberg Forms $100M Foundation)

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As part of its initiative, Target also announced a reading pledge, a donation of up to 2 million books to kids in need, and plans for a reading center that will reach communities across the country through a physical and virtual presence.

Target says that one in four kids in the U.S. did not graduate from high school. The odds were even worse for African-American and Hispanic students, nearly 40 percent of whom did not receive a diploma.

“When more than a million students a year fail to graduate with their class, it’s more than a problem, it’s a catastrophe,” said Gen. Colin L. Powell, USA (Ret.) and founding chair of America’s Promise Alliance, which is a partnership organization to improve the lives of children and youth by raising awareness.

“Our economic and national security are at risk when we fail to educate the leaders and the workforce of the future. No single organization or entity can solve this issue on its own. We have a responsibility to unite across sectors to address this crisis because we cannot afford to let our kids fail.”

“Target’s ties to education run deep, but we are compelled to do more to address the education crisis in the U.S. and put more kids on the path to graduation so they are ready for college, a career and life. The time to act is now, and it starts by reading with a child,” said Laysha Ward, president of community relations, Target.

“Our reading pledge is the first of many steps Target will take to ensure our kids are globally competitive. We need every parent and caring adult to join us in creating a movement that will chart a new course in education and help our children succeed.”

Target will invite the public to get involved in its reading initiative through a variety of channels, including the Pledge.

According to experts, Target says, children should be read to or with for at least 30 minutes a day. Target will encourage parents, caring adults and its more than 350,000 team members to take action by visiting Target.com/reading, where they can pledge to commit to a regular reading schedule with a child.

The pledge also can be accessed via mobile Web browsing or by texting “READ” to TARGET (827438). Target.com/reading will host a variety of tools, tips and expert resources. It will emphasize the importance of committing to a regular reading schedule with a child, whether that is the expert-recommended schedule or localized volunteer opportunities, so all pledge participants can get involved and play a role in addressing the education crisis, the company says.

The company announced the plans Monday, Sept. 27.

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