Over 30,000 books to be donated to central Iowa children and students from United Way of Central Iowa's annual Stuff the Bus book drive.

Employees from 40 central Iowa organizations, along with several individual contributors from the community, donated more than 30,000 children’s books to United Way of Central Iowa’s Stuff the Bus book drive. The results were announced at the annual community-wide book collection at Athene in West Des Moines on Tuesday, May 24.

Every book donated will be distributed to more than 100 childcare or child-serving programs in Dallas, Polk, and Warren Counties. 

“As United Way continues our path of fostering a thriving community, we consider how a child’s ability to read proficiently at the end of third grade sets the foundation for future success,” said Mary Sellers, President of United Way of Central Iowa: “In central Iowa, 1 in 4 students aren’t reading proficiently by the end of third grade which can create a multitude of challenges throughout a child’s life. Our community’s donations to Stuff the Bus will help more children have access to books, which is a key factor for improving reading proficiency scores and greatly increasing chances for education success and beyond.” 

The annual Stuff the Bus book drive is part of United Way of Central Iowa’s UNITED to THRIVE strategic focus on Early Childhood Success and Education Success, where central Iowa youth enter school ready to learn and are academically successful, with a plan for their future. Stuff the Bus, sponsored by Athene and EY, engages the whole community in helping students as they continue throughout their educational journey from birth through graduation. With the ultimate goal of providing central Iowa students access to age-appropriate books so they will not only experience success in school, but success throughout their lifetime.  

“Athene is proud to once again sponsor the Stuff the Bus program in partnership with United Way and EY,” said Grant Kvalheim, CEO and President of Athene USA and a member of United Way of Central Iowa’s Board of Directors. “Athene is passionate about supporting educational initiatives that help provide children with the resources they need to be successful. This year we focused our efforts on collecting books for children aged zero to preschool and our employees went above and beyond, donating over 15,000 books.”

Organizations were invited to sign up and host book drives to collect new and like-new non-fiction, STEM-related, or bilingual books. Getting a variety of books promotes understanding and respect for all – especially when the books feature characters who represent different ethnicities, races, and disabilities.

“Giving is an important part of EY’s culture and our mission is to build a better working world by strengthening the communities we work and live in. Collaborating with Athene for this event helps us increase our reach. Every child deserves access to books, and we all know success in education relies on reading skills formed at a young age,” said Phil Randall, Partner at EY. “Our employees lead by example when it comes to giving to organizations like United Way. This year our donation was over 500 books – a 30% increase from last year. Together, we truly are making a difference.”


I Want to View Event PhotosI Want to Watch the Impact Video



About United Way of Central Iowa
United Way of Central Iowa is UNITED to THRIVE, fostering an equitable, engaged, and empowered community. For 100 years and counting, United Way of Central Iowa brings together nonprofits, businesses, government, leaders, volunteers, and people across the community to identify and strategically address the most pressing needs in central Iowa. Focusing on issues such as affordable housing, early grade-level reading, poverty, physical and mental health, high school graduation, and workforce training – United Way of Central Iowa inspires central Iowans to give, advocate, and volunteer to improve lives and empower everyone in our community. For more information about United Way of Central Iowa, visit www.unitedwaydm.org.

About Athene USA 
Athene USA is a leading retirement services company that specializes in helping its customers achieve financial security and is a solutions provider to institutions. Founded in 2009, Athene is Driven to Do More for our policyholders, business partners, shareholders, and the communities in which we work and live. For more information, please visit www.athene.com.

About Ernst & Young
Ernst & Young Global Limited, trade name EY: Our purpose is Building a better working world. The insights and quality services we provide help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities. Further information about EY can be found at www.ey.com/en_us.

Topics: Early Childhood Success, Education Success

Joy Talmon

Written by Joy Talmon

Joy Talmon is the Volunteer Engagement Officer for United Way of Central Iowa.