CHICAGO — The Coin Laundry Association’s (CLA) LaundryCares Foundation recently launched the inaugural LaundryCares Literacy Summit, in partnership with Too Small to Fail and Libraries Without Borders.
The early March event—which coincided with Read Across America Day and children’s author Dr. Seuss’ birthday—brought together national literacy organizations to explore the unique role the Laundromat can play in enhancing early literacy efforts in local communities across the country.
Since 2006, LaundryCares has hosted its Free Laundry Day initiative, providing families with free laundry services at select Laundromats in underserved communities around the country. And over the last three years, in partnership with the Clinton Foundation’s Too Small to Fail initiative, the Free Laundry Day initiative has expanded to include reading circles, family literacy activities and more.
Further, CLA and Too Small to Fail implemented “Wash Time is Talk Time,” a national partnership to distribute children’s books, parent-child conversation posters, and family tip sheets through 5,000 Laundromats across the country.
In recent months, there has been an outpouring of interest from literacy organizations in collaborating with LaundryCares to support increased efforts. The March gathering aimed to bring those like-missioned organizations together to identify how to collectively make a bigger impact to promote childhood literacy.
Summit sponsors and in-kind supporters included Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher of children’s books, as well as Lakeshore Learning Materials, a retailer and distributor of innovative educational products.
“Due to our tremendous reach in underserved communities, LaundryCares is in a unique position to leverage existing early literacy efforts in neighborhoods across the country,” says CLA CEO Brian Wallace.
Families spend an average of 2.5 hours during each visit to the Laundromat, says Jane Park Woo, deputy director of Too Small to Fail.