CINCINNATI, Ohio – The Conscious Connect started in 2016 in hopes of ending book deserts in Ohio.

  • 100 literary access points
  • 40,000 books distributed to communities considered book deserts
  • Growth could soon include nationwide efforts

A book desert is described as an area where access to books and reading materials are difficult to obtain.

Karlos Marshall and Moses Mbeseha, both graduates of Wittenberg University, started the foundation to get books into communities where children didn't have them.

“We started going out to barber shops, salons, knocking on doors. Asking people, 'hey do you want books in your salon or barber shop,'” said Adam Brown, The Conscious Connect Board Member.

In two years the foundation has provided 40,000 books to 23,000 people. They have established 100 literary points throughout southwest Ohio and are working to expand to other parts of the state.

Literary points include “House of Knowledge,” which is a miniature school house containing a variety of books. The group also places books at salons, barber shops, community centers, and organizations.

“Where literacy is low we also find high rates of poverty,” Brown told Spectrum News 1. “And that's anywhere you go. That's our first criteria. We also look at the breakdown as far as ethnic backgrounds so we know how to structure the books and we know how to give the material to that particular location.”

The Conscious Connect will use income and ethnic data about a neighborhood to hand select reading materials. Brown said the group works to include books that are culturally relevant to the neighborhood.

The Conscious Connect also has “Words on Wheels,” a collaboration with the University of Dayton's Innovation Center and Haley Tricycles. The program is a tricycle modified to carry 300 to 400 books. The Conscious Connect uses “Words on Wheels” at various activities and events to provide books to individuals.

Volunteers with The Conscious Connect will provide volunteer services to earn books as payment. The foundation also accepts book donations and monetary contributions to obtain books.

Eventually, The Conscious Connect would like to begin serving areas all across the U.S.