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BAM Festival: Who We Are and What We Do

Updated: Feb 23, 2021

This December kicks off one of the best holidays of the season: Giving Tuesday! Looking for a good cause to support? Read on to find out how your contribution can make a difference at BAM.

This Giving Tuesday, we’re raising money for BAM Festival, and your contribution will make an impact, whether you donate $5 or $500. Every little bit helps. The best part? Facebook will match $7 million in qualifying donations! Your support means the world to the BAM fam and all our attendees.

The mission of BAM Festival is to provide a county-wide literary experience that brings together authors, teachers, students, families, and the community. Together, we share our love of books as we promote literacy, encourage fellowship through education, exercise young minds with discussion, and inspire youth to reach high.

The main event: 30+ authors, artists, and musicians each year meet kids, lead workshops, sign books, and attend panels. In adherence to the city’s COVID safety guidelines, these opportunities will all be provided virtually for the 2021 festival.

Some examples of our outreach and support last year alone included:

  1. Reaching over 8,200 children and teens with our programs and annual event

  2. Organizing guest visits to 36 schools that couldn’t otherwise afford them

  3. Providing author visits to the PACE Center for Girls

  4. Coordinating illustrator and author events with the Mandel Public Library

  5. Visiting two county juvenile detention centers whose teens benefited from author visits and 200 free books. These connections are crucial to them and their rehabilitation. This year, the United States Youth Ambassador and National Book Award Finalist, Jason Reynolds, will be doing a live virtual discussion with these teens so they can feel seen, supported, and properly represented.

  6. Creating new opportunities for young writers. 5 schools participated in the writing workshop with Stephen Kozan, and 5 youth finalists will be publishing a book.

  7. The student finalist from our writer’s workshop at BAM even entered a mentorship with one of our authors and is currently publishing a book with him. The release of this book will be held at the event.

  8. Providing 400+ free books to students at Title 1 schools

  9. Busing in 5 busloads of children from 6 Title 1 schools to the free festival (and reaching even more with our virtual event!)

And while we’re so proud of these accomplishments and numbers, nothing beats the more intimate, personal moments that happen every BAM festival. Our president, Claire Salmon, recounts one of her most meaningful BAM memories:

“A few BAMs ago, one of our authors, Paul Griffin, found a shy child in the crowd that had written a poem that BAM’s writing workshop had inspired her to write. She was soft spoken and in awe that an author had taken such interest in her writing.

At the beginning of the day, this child hid behind Paul as she followed him from panel to panel; by the end, she was nothing short of exuberant with an entire pack of authors surrounding her, encouraging her. At the BAM Jam with Jeff Zentner and Tyler Whitesides, she was invited to go up on stage and read her poem to the crowd. Boy, did she. It was transformative. Upon finishing, she jumped out of the spotlight and returned to her tribe of authors who all applauded her. Those smiles and joyous tears of hers are something I will never forget. They solidified me as part of the BAM team.

Stuff like this happens every BAM, many times, with many children. They discover their voice for the first time. They discover a productive way to express themselves, to escape, to inspire. They find a community to feel safe in, an author that encourages them, and a character that makes them feel found.”

We hope we’ve given you a good idea of BAM’s goals and impact. We provide all of this to the public for free. There are no tickets. We do this because we think every child, no matter their situation, should be able to access these opportunities.

Every little bit counts. Every few dollars could get another book into a child’s hand who has never owned one, another author to a school that otherwise couldn’t afford it, make another difference in a young life. These are lonely times, and to help deliver inspiration, motivation, and representation to children and teens during this time is ESSENTIAL to their development and mental health. Help us reach as many as possible.

We continue to do the good we do thanks to our generous supporters alone. Your magnanimity does not go unnoticed.

If you’d like to donate, please access our PayPal here. We appreciate your generosity, and look forward to seeing you on the little screen this April 10th, 2021!

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