English Books for Poland

Helping underprivileged children in Poland learn English!

Photo of Zofia Kierner
17 10

Written by

Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Website: https://zofiakierner.wixsite.com/wordsofwisdom

Date Started

September 2012

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

I am Polish, however before coming to the US I lived in Finland for 6 years. Even though I went to the International School in Helsinki, I had contact with my neighborhood school in Poland. I visited this school once during the summer and talked with the students and teachers. By doing so, I found out how challenging it is for them to learn English (or other foreign languages) in an unnatural environment and I understood how lucky I am to learn English (a world-wide language now!) from first-hand experiences. It became clear to me that it is tremendously important to have access to practical tools that help learn.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Over 1.5 Billion people around the world speak English which leaves over 6 Billion that don't speak the language even though it is a crucial skill in the modern world. So many do not know the language even though it is tremendously important when travelling, studying abroad or getting a good job. Children in Poland DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO RESOURCES. Books in English are so expensive! If we can solve this problem we can truly connect the world!

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

For over 6 years now I have been collecting books first in Finland and now for almost 3 years in the United States and delivering them to schools and preschools in Poland. When looking at colorful, funny and interesting books rather than textbooks children are more excited to learn the language and it makes it a more fun experience. When delivering these books I personally talk to the kids about the importance of learning English. The schools that I have visited have created small libraries full of English books that children can check out and take home. They also have a reading period every week where children use the books that they have received. The key to learning a language is repetition and these books are not read once but many times to help the children learn English that will be so beneficial to them in the future!

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

I have organized numerous book collections (in schools, neighborhoods, churches, etc.) and donated thousands of books to various schools and preschools in Poland. I truly believe that with the right resources, children in Poland can make a big impact on their future and hugely benefit from knowing such an international language! As an example let us take the example of collecting books in my middle school last year. I worked with the Principal to organize a book collection. About 5 of my friends got involved in the process. Depending on their strengths they helped me with creating promotional material, talking with students, standing next to the front entrance to collect books, etc. Next we also sorted through all the books, stamped them with my stamp and separated them by category. These books then travel with me to Poland where I personally donate them to schools in need.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Books for Poland is solving a crucial issue in a society in need. If these children don't learn English they are missing a shot at a good job and a good future. There are many projects out there that deliver books to children in the area where the books are collected here in the United States. Yes, this is also very useful, yet these children already know the language and they will not benefit from them as much as children whose futures are lying on the fact that they must master the knowledge of English. Books for Poland is helping solve a global issue rather than a community issue.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Books for Poland had collected and donated about 5,000 books to kids in need. Over 10,000 children have been impacted by this project. Through receiving these books they are bettering their chance at a better future and they are learning a crucial skill. This is also a very personal project. I personally travel to Poland twice a year to deliver these books. I see every child who is impacted and I watch every smile light up children's faces. I am making a difference one book at a time! Every book has made an impact on a child's education and their life!

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Currently I am at the stage of starting a Foundation in Poland with the working name 'Girl Power'. This foundation will not only focus on books but also helping girls both younger and older travel to grants to English - speaking countries, have mentors to help girls apply for colleges or trips around the world as well as a buddy program between girls in Poland and girls here to have conversations over Skype or write letters to help girls in Poland with learning English. The goal for the foundation to be up and running by winter 2018. This summer I am delivering another batch of over 500 books to 2 preschools in Poland. The goal is to double this amount and donate over 1,000 books over this coming winter break!

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

I have gotten tremendous help from several communities who have donated books and supported my project. I have also worked with the President of Lodz in Poland to help me find which schools and preschools need the most help and would benefit the most from receiving books. I have also received help from our family friends who help collect books. My family has been a HUGE help to me with counting, sorting, transporting and donating all the books.

9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

Currently i am working with one of my friends who is designing a technological aspect for my charity in the form of an app. I would also love to partner with other change-makers to grow the scale of my project and expand it to more countries and children in need around the world! I am always looking for leaders willing to conduct a book collection project in their school or community. Every book makes a difference and every person involved can help make that difference!

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)
  • Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Religious minority (non-Christian)
  • No, I do not identify with an underrepresented community

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

Evaluation results

5 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 20%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 40%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 20%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 20%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 40%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 20%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 20%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 20%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 40%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 20%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 20%

1 - This entry is weak here - 20%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 33.3%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 60%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 20%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 20%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Claudia Gourdet

Hello Zofia Kierner,

Congratulations on being selected to advance to the Top 100 stage! Literacy is extremely important providing books to the children in Poland will definitely accomplish that, keep up the great work!

Photo of Adele Battel

This is so cool! As a native English speaker, this isn’t a challenge I’ve ever thought of before. I’m so glad you have and are working to make a difference. Best of luck!

Photo of Books& Blankets

Hi Sofia, we haven't heard of a project like yours, but we think you have an incredible idea. Congratulations! - Harper and Maggie

Photo of Ariyan Miller

Hey There Fellow Changemaker,

Congrats on moving to the next phase. I wishing you the best of luck ! & I am sending love and light to all the positive things that you do.

Photo of Denilson Pierre Louis

This is a strong idea. English is a dominating language and is much needed in this modern era. Good Idea! Good job!

Photo of Alisha Zhao

I love how you are scaling your project through the Girl Power program! One idea that could build on to it is to include an English tutoring program component to it. Maybe students in the US can be paired up with a Polish student and hold weekly Skype sessions to help them improve their English. This way, they can receive one-on-one support and have any questions answered that they may have from the books they are reading.

Photo of Maya Burhanpurkar

I think this is such a great idea, and it has the potential to help people in such an interesting way!

Photo of Parum Misri

It seems like a really cool idea! I'm looking forward to seeing how the app turns out. It sounds like you've got a good team to help you!

Photo of Selma N

Your project sounds incredible and has a lot of potential! My project RISE (Refugee International Support Effort) is working towards distributing creative outlet items throughout refugee camps in order to instill hope and mental well being. I would love to work together in possibly distributing books throughout refugee camps! Please feel free to contact me.
My email is: selma@supportrise.org

Photo of Anna Steenbakkers

I think the work you're doing is great! I especially love that you plan on using technology to increase the impact you're making. It would be great if the app plan to create will also be available to children around the world!

Photo of Hannah and Zoha

Hi Zofia!

Our names are Zoha and Hannah, and we are the founders of HER Education. We are so excited to hear that you are in the field of distributing books to underserved children because so are we! Our mission is to build libraries for underfunded girls' schools in developing countries. We would love to explore opportunities for collaboration or learning from each other's processes if you are interested.

All the best,
Zoha and Hannah

Photo of Zofia Kierner

Zoha and Hannah,
I'm so happy you reached out! I would love to work with you in the near future!

Photo of Hannah and Zoha

That sounds great! Our email is contact.hereducation@gmail.com. Looking forward to continuing the conversation!

Photo of Brittany Corner

Language is truly a gateway and opportunity for economic development, you are doing great work

Photo of Naysha Young

I really love this idea because I not only love reading but am from an island that lacks certain things. This is such a wonderful idea and would definitely help the world in connnevtiveness!

Photo of Anthony Montano

I really enjoyed reading about this submission. I can tell that you are passionate and driven to make a difference with this cause. I think the most exciting thing is that this cause not only benefits Poland, but it can benefit the world, especially as it continues to grow! To take it even further, something that might be useful would be to consider researching free language-learning resources. There are many apps and websites available in the U.S. market for free that help users learn other languages, so there might be similar resources in Poland that provide the same benefits for learning English.

Again, I really liked this submission. Keep up the great work and I can’t wait to see how things continue to grow and expand for you!

Photo of Zofia Kierner

Hi Anthony!
Thank you so much for your reply! I really like the idea of using apps to help children learn English. I will definitely look into that.
Thank you!