From July 27-29, the SIU helped distribute educational books and backpacks to students in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as part of the League of United Latin American Citizen’s (LULAC) Convention, which took place July 25-30.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the Asociacion de Maestros de Puerto Rico (AMPR) and LULAC partnered with the SIU, the Transportation Institute (TI), and SIU-contracted Crowley Maritime to ship 10,000 books to the island, as well as thousands of backpacks, for distribution among the children living in Puerto Rico.
According to TI Vice President of Government Affairs Sara Fuentes, “AFT was a big sponsor of the conference and was going to send some books down as part of their ‘Reading Opens the World’ program. (SIU Assistant Vice President) Amancio (Crespo) heard about it at the AFL meeting, and called Crowley and got them to ship the books down for free, and AFT asked TI to buy backpacks. We gave out 10,000 books to about 1,200 students there, with the leftover books going to children in housing projects on the island.”
“Every child must have the opportunity to recover and thrive, and reading is a foundational skill necessary for virtually everything we learn and do – and reading well is an essential pathway to opportunity,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “Kids long for something that’s theirs – to explore faraway places or learn about a great leader that looks like them, and these books are fulfilling that dream.”
Crespo stated, “It’s definitely a team effort, and we’re honored to be a part of it. I was also chosen to read a book aloud to the kids at the convention, and naturally I chose ‘El Coqui,’ which shares a name with the Crowley vessel that shipped the books to Puerto Rico.”
AFT’s “Reading Opens the World” program is similar in nature to the SIU-affiliated “BookWaves” program that began in 2020, and saw more than 100,000 books donated to children in Puerto Rico with the help of industry partners and union labor.