In 2017, Cleveland’s Slavic Village Neighborhood will demonstrate its deep commitment to improving literacy by becoming the nation’s first “Little Free Library Neighborhood.”
The concept of a “Little Free Library Neighborhood” comes from the creative mind of Little Free Library co-founder Todd Bol of Wisconsin. Bol designed the first Little Free Library in 2009 as a tribute to his teacher mother, and in just six years, more than 50,000 of the little wooden book exchanges have been installed all over the world. Bol, who has visited Cleveland many times for Little Free Library events, says he is thrilled that Slavic Village will be the first community to officially implement his concept. It’s fitting, Bol says, because he came up with the concept after talking with Cleveland leaders in 2013 about the threat the Ohio Third Grade Reading Guarantee posed for children with low reading scores. His goal is to see communities capitalizing on the spirit and grassroots enthusiasm triggered by his little libraries by putting on regular events in their own backyards to improve literacy and promote a love of reading.
In Slavic Village, monthly activities will highlight the six Little Free Libraries that are located here, and expand the number of libraries that exist, and encourage residents to take advantage of the vast number of literacy resources right in their neighborhood. The campaign, to be known locally as Slavic Village Reads, will have a strong social media component. Families will be asked to post pictures while reading or visiting local Little Free Libraries, using the hashtags #SlavicVillageReads and #WeReadHere.
“Building the math and reading skills in our youth is a primary goal of the Third Federal Foundation. Literacy is key to lifelong success,” explains Kurt Karakul, president of the Third Federal Foundation.
A collaborative spirit underlines the project, which is sponsored by Third Federal with key partners WKYC and Slavic Village MyCom / P-16, a cradle-to-career initiative. Third Federal will promote the literacy activities and spotlight participating residents in a series of commercials airing year-long on WKYC. Margaret Bernstein, WKYC director of advocacy and community initiatives and Little Free Library board member, says she is excited to see what can happen when a neighborhood feels the pride of being recognized for putting reading and education first.
Says Natalie Friedl, director of MyCom/P-16, “The Slavic Village neighborhood is known for many things but this accomplishment feels tremendous to the P-16 partners who help scholars and families see the importance of reading, writing and education every day.”
What does it mean to be a Little Free Library Neighborhood? It means that a community commits to putting on regular events intended to improve literacy. Check out this schedule of events being brought to the community for everyone to enjoy! You can follow these events at or contact Mahogani Graves, Literacy Coordinator at
The Little Free Library Neighborhood kicked off with a literacy-themed “Winter Break” program for children at the Boys & Girls Club, 6114 Broadway, on Jan. 4-6, 2017. The Jewish Federation of Cleveland and the Jewish Volunteer Network collaborated to serve a meal and provide activities. Literacy projects included a poster contest, book giveaways and a dedication of a special “Little Free Library Neighborhood” plaque at the Little Free Library located in front of the club.
Parent-child reading clinic at Community of Faith Assembly church, 5949 Engel Ave., from 5:30 to 7 pm on Tuesday, Feb. 7.
Read Across America Celebration at MetroHealth Broadway Health Center, 6835 Broadway Ave., 11 a.m.-3 pm on Thursday, March 2. Partners include MetroHealth and Reach Out and Read. Also on March 2, at 4 p.m. “Seuss on the Loose,” a birthday party for Dr. Seuss featuring story time and crafts, will be held at Cleveland Public Library Fleet Branch, 7224 Broadway Ave.
Spring events will be announced at a later date. They will include dedication of several new Little Free Libraries scattered across Slavic Village, and a literacy event for parents of children 5 and younger at the CEOGC Head Start at 5630 Broadway.
Partners include: WKYC, Slavic Village MyCom/P-16, Little Free Library, Jewish Federation of Cleveland, Boys & Girls Club, Slavic Village Development, Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank, MetroHealth, Cleveland Police Foundation, The Literacy Cooperative of Greater Cleveland and Council for Economic Opportunities in Greater Cleveland.
The Third Federal Foundation provides financial support to charitable organizations in the communities in which Third Federal operates, and enables communities to share in the long-term growth of the company. It also supports the ongoing obligations to its communities under the Community Reinvestment Act.
Third Federal Savings and Loan Association is a leading provider of savings and mortgage products, and operates under the values of love, trust, respect, a commitment to excellence and fun. Founded in Cleveland in 1938 as a mutual association by Ben and Gerome Stefanski, Third Federal’s mission is to help people achieve the dream of home ownership and financial security. It became part of a public company in 2007 and celebrated its 75th anniversary in May, 2013. Third Federal, which lends in 21 states and the District of Columbia, is dedicated to serving consumers with competitive rates and outstanding service. Third Federal, an equal housing lender, has 21 full service branches in Northeast Ohio, eight lending offices in Central and Southern Ohio, and 17 full service branches throughout Florida. As of September 30, 2016, the Company’s assets totaled $12.91 billion. For more, visit