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Inside Books Project: promoting literacy for prisoners

The Inside Books Project is an Austin-based organization that has sent more than ¼ million free books and educational materials to Texas prisoners since 1998. Amazingly, Inside Books is the only books-to-prisoners program in the state of Texas, where the prison population numbers over 160,000.

The goal of the project is to promote reading, literacy and education among inmates as well as spread awareness and understanding of incarceration issues among the general public,

"There's nothing quite like the pleasure of reading a letter from someone who is deeply in need of a service you can provide," says volunteer Jane Chamberlain. "The prisoners are so appreciative; hardly a letter fails to begin without some form of "thank you for the great books, God bless you all!'"

Inside Books receives an average of 1,200 written requests per month from inmates across Texas. A frequently requested item is the Inside Books Resource Guide, a 24-page pamphlet that serves as a go-to references for prisoner needs.

Inside Books is a 100% volunteer operation, and last year, 86% percent of the organization's budget went to just one line-item: postage. The Austin Awesome Foundation's $1000 grant will be deposited directly into the Inside Books postal account.

Says Chamberlain, "Austin is a hub of good will, and Inside Books is proud to be part of the benevolent vibrations that emanate from our city to all parts of Texas. We know that some of our clients are Austinites, because they often come to see us when they get out and say they're ready to give back the goodness they received while inside."

Funded by Austin, TX (November 2014)