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#NiceWork! In Sarasota Florida, a kind teacher is on a mission to promote both child literacy and good fashion. Kaitlin Lambert, teacher Alta Vista Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida, is working to provide books for children who need them the most.  In order to fund her operations, she’s utilizing her fashion sense to sell inspiring t-shirts online. Together, her business is called Kind Cotton.

Kaitlin has always made it her mission to help individual students grow as readers. “There is nothing in the world that compares to watching 18 kids’ eyes light up with curiosity as the pages of a book turn.” she explains in Kind Cotton’s blog. Still, though many of her students enjoy reading at school, they haven’t always been able to read at home. At Alta Vista Elementary, 97% of students fall below the poverty line. According to the Children’s Literacy Foundation, 61% of low-income families do not have any age appropriate books in the home. “Parents [in poverty] are stretched to work three jobs simply to ensure their kids have a place to live and a meal to eat,” Kaitlin explained to Envision Kindness.

A 20-year international study found that access to books in the home is a huge indicator of academic success. In fact, books play an even larger role in predicting future academic success than parent education level. So, Kaitlin started buying books for students on holidays or special occasions. She would even give books to students when they showed a particular interest in a book in her classroom. But Kaitlin wanted to do more. The 2010 U.S. census found that about 1 in every 5 children in the United States are living in poverty. So, funded by an Indiegogo campaign, Kaitlin founded Kind Cotton. The company uses a 1-to-1 model; for every item purchased on the Kind Cotton website, a book will be donated to a child in need.

Kind Cotton cares about making lasting impact on children’s lives. Kaitlin and the team want to make sure that the books they give stay in the households that need them most. In order to address this need, Kind Cotton has recently partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Newtown Estates Park. Every month (starting this November), Kaitlin will spend time reading with Kindergarten and First Grade students. Each month will focus on a new book. At the end of every event, each child will get to go home with a copy of the book. Kaitlin purchases the books from Scholastic for a great discount. In the future, Kaitlin hopes that Kind Cotton will be able to broaden its reach by working with other groups such as the Sarasota Housing Authority. Kind Cotton is also working on developing parent information nights to help parents support their children become successful readers.

The young company is even getting involved in the community in other ways. Kind Cotton has already given $400 to Irma relief efforts at Lake Trafford Elementary School.

Inspired by Kaitlin and Kind Cotton’s work? Support child literacy and check out their online store. Your life and experiences are unique and valuable. Leverage your skills to help those in need around you.  

Kind Business Number: 14

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