Libraries Without Borders implemented Ideas Box programs in the Bronx, New York, and in Detroit, Michigan. These programs expanded access for youth in low-income neighborhoods to educational programming after school and during vacations. With the Ideas Box, LWB created pop-up libraries and media centers in public parks, on busy street-corners, in laundromats, in lobbies of low-income housing projects.
The Bronx project
Through the invitation of The New York Public Library and Bronx-based non-profit DreamYard, LWB customized the Ideas Box for Morris Heights, a neighborhood in the Bronx that is part of the nation’s poorest congressional district. According to the American Community Survey compiled for the years 2008-2013, unemployment is at 25.4% and over 36% of households are headed by single mothers.
The Detroit project
Following our successes in New York, the Detroit Mayor’s Office invited LWB to customize an Ideas Box program for Detroit. According to the US Census Bureau, Detroit is the most impoverished major city in America with 39.3% living below the poverty line. Through November and December of 2015, Libraries Without Borders partnered with the Detroit Mayor’s Office to implement Ideas Box programs after-school, on weekends, and over winter vacations.
Through qualitative interviews and several iterations of quantitative assessments, the Libraries Without Borders team found that the Ideas Box was able to provide short-term boosts in math scores for many students. Demands for Ideas Box resources were great. Programs that required pre-registration were always booked to capacity, and for Noel Night, the Ideas Box welcomed over 1000 visitors in 5 hours.