Corporate donors help over 135,000 Florida students receive books by supporting Florida’s Home Literacy Program

UF Lastinger Learning Center Press Release

Led by House Speaker Chris Sprows, the Florida Legislature created the New Worlds Reading Initiative to be the largest literacy program of its kind in the United States, providing free books and additional learning resources to eligible K-5 students statewide. With more than half a million Florida children eligible for the initiative, lawmakers recognized the need for strong ongoing funding. To ensure the sustainability of the initiative, a key source of funding has been identified: corporate donors committed to supporting their communities.

As a state-appointed trustee of the New Worlds Reading Initiative, the Lastinger Center for Learning at the University of Florida is a registered scholarship funding organization (SFO) that is eligible to accept contributions from tax credit to support the initiative. Through the New Worlds Reading Initiative, corporate taxpayers can make monetary contributions to the UF Lastinger Center and receive a dollar-for-dollar credit on certain Florida taxes.

“We are immensely grateful for the support of our donors,” said Dr Shaunté Duggins, deputy director of the New Worlds Reading Initiative. “Their generous contributions allow us to partner with even more Florida families to nurture a lifelong love of reading in our children. We believe that reading shapes who people are and who they will become – that reading makes you, you.

“Children and their success are at the heart of what we do,” said Dr. Phil Poekert, director of the UF Lastinger Center. “We are proud and honored to administer the New Worlds Reading Initiative for the State of Florida. We are deeply grateful for the generosity of our business partners who will enable us to support Florida children and their families for years to come.

The Lastinger Center at the University of Florida worked with businesses across the state to gain support for the literacy program. In just a few months since the start of the program, $50 million has already been raised over three years.

“It was an honor to stand alongside our partners on Wednesday as we celebrated the huge milestone of reaching $50 million in corporate sponsorships for the New Worlds Reading Initiative, said Chairman Chris Sprows. “The creativity of our members in providing a tax credit to those who support our vision has gotten us to this point, and none of this would have been possible without the dedicated leadership of Representative Trabulsy and President Latvala. Thank you to our sponsors for investing in our goal to get every child in Florida reading at the grade level. Everyone who comes together with us on Wednesday will have a transformational impact on our next generation, because when a child can read, he can learn, and when he can learn, the door to unlimited possibilities opens.

An illustrious list of companies have donated so far including: Charter Communications, Duke Energy, Florida Power & Light, HCA Healthcare, Southern Eagle Distributing, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, TD SYNNEX, TECO, Tropical Shipping USA, LLC and Walmart.

“When kids have the opportunity to read books that reflect their interests — and when they can see themselves in the story — their enthusiasm for reading grows,” said Rahman Khan, vice president of community impact. for Charter Communications. “We are thrilled to join New Worlds Reading in helping to accelerate learning and create ongoing, positive connections among Florida families, schools, and communities.”

“At Duke Energy, we believe in making an impact today for a better tomorrow,” said Melissa Seixas, state chair of Duke Energy in Florida. “We are proud to support this incredible initiative to bring books directly to families, giving children across the state the opportunity to reach their full potential and develop a lifelong love of reading.”

“At HCA Healthcare, we are committed to providing healthier tomorrows for our communities, which includes investing in resources for children across Florida,” said Ravi Chari, MD, President and CEO, HCA Healthcare West Florida Division, part of HCA Florida Healthcare. “Our children are our future, and we all have a responsibility to help provide the best tools and resources for them and their well-being. We are thrilled to partner with New Worlds Reading to help our state’s children reach and realize their full potential through the power of books and literacy.

“Southern Eagle Distributing has always believed in the importance of supporting our community and helping provide our children with every opportunity to succeed; we are pleased to now add this great initiative to our efforts,” said Philip Busch, president of Southern Eagle Distributing. “We salute the hard work of Rep. Dana Trabulsy in introducing this bill and Speaker Chris Sprows for making it a top priority. With the launch of the New Worlds reading program, the future of our children becomes brighter.

“At Southern Glazer’s, we believe that education paves the way for opportunity, which is why we are proud to fund a number of educational programs at the elementary, secondary and college levels,” said Steven Becker, Vice President Executive, Treasurer and Compliance, Southern Glazer’s. “We are very pleased to make a long-term financial commitment to the New Worlds Reading Initiative Florida Literacy Program with the goal of helping more students realize the power of literacy.”

“Corporate citizenship is central to our culture at TD SYNNEX,” said Jill Kermes, Vice President of Global Corporate Communications, TD SYNNEX. “We are confident that our partnership with the New Worlds Reading Initiative will have a direct impact on our local Florida communities and help children develop a love of reading from an early age.”

“TECO is proud to support the New Worlds Reading Initiative program because reading and access to literature is the foundation of student success,” said Archie Collins, president and CEO of Tampa Electric. “Youth programs and education are cornerstones of our corporate citizenship efforts, and INRE was a natural fit into these efforts to support learning and growth opportunities for young people.”

“Tropical Shipping is thrilled to participate in the New Worlds Reading Initiative,” said Mr. Jeff Fiser, President and CEO of Tropical Shipping. “We focus on our communities, our youth and our education! »

“Walmart is proud to support the New Worlds Reading Initiative to bring free books to the doorsteps of elementary school students across our state,” said Monesia Brown, Walmart’s director of public affairs. “At Walmart, we are committed to helping our customers live better lives. Giving children the opportunity to reach their full potential by developing their skills and love of reading is one small way we can impact lives. »

Due to the influx of corporate donor support, the Florida Legislature passed an amendment to raise the donation cap to $60 million for fiscal year 2024-25 and beyond. This amendment awaits the Governor’s signature. Guidelines set by lawmakers ensure that donations go to what’s most important: getting books into children’s hands.

For more information about the program, visit