2016 PR News CSR Hall of Fame: JetBlue

JetBlue Airways – Soar With Reading

A 2001 study by Susan Neuman, a childhood literacy expert, found that children in underserved communities only have access to one age appropriate book for every 300 children in a given area. JetBlue set out to address this concerning statistic and get books into the hands of kids who need them most in 2011 with the implementation of its Soar with Reading program.

In 2014, JetBlue commissioned a follow-up study to be conducted by Neuman. The ongoing study looks at three key JetBlue communities to see if the conditions in these harrowing book deserts have gotten any better since 2001. The early results of this study are particularly concerning. Neuman found that this problem has gotten much, much worse.

The research showed that in the Washington D.C. neighborhood of Anacostia—one of the three focus areas of the study—there is only access to one age appropriate book for every 830 children in the area.

After receiving the preliminary findings, JetBlue created an advisory board made up of childhood literacy and development experts from several esteemed organizations. With the help of the advisory board, JetBlue implemented a pilot program in the Anacostia neighborhood.

Over the summer, JetBlue placed thoughtfully designed vending machines that dispensed new books free of charge for kids up to 14 years old. Three of these machines were placed in areas of the community where families naturally congregated. Kids could take as many books as they were interested in—no strings attached.

With the Soar with Reading program, JetBlue hopes that by providing free access to books in a fun and convenient way the company can help encourage reading throughout the country. Since its inception, JetBlue and its partners have donated more than $1.75 million worth of books to kids in need.