While working as the Executive Director of Teaching and Learning in Baltimore City Public Schools, our founder Jarrod Bolte was perplexed by the large number of children entering school each year without the basic skills and knowledge to be successful. One night, while reading with his own son at bedtime, Jarrod had the idea for Bedtime in a Box. Not only could he provide books and bedtime supplies to children and families, but he could help them establish a healthy and consistent routine every night.
For three years, Jarrod kept a box of bedtime materials and books next to his desk, sharing it with colleagues and getting feedback from parents and caregivers. Efforts to raise funds for distribution failed early and often, but he persisted with the encouragement of his son who loved the idea and helped with early versions that were tested with families. In 2015, the first Boxes were provided to 20 families in the Cherry Hill neighborhood of Baltimore City through a partnership with a Judy Center, an organization supporting families in the community with children ages 0-5. Word quickly spread about the Box and the impact it had on families. Soon we were providing Boxes to organizations across the city and the program moved from Jarrod’s basement into a slightly larger, dedicated office/warehouse space.
In the first year, we provided Boxes to over 600 low-income families in Baltimore, and began to build relationships with schools, early childhood centers, and health clinics. Bedtime in a Box was building momentum in the community and programs were integrating it into their work to support families and children.
In 2018, we founded the Baltimore Warehouse Collaborative with the Maryland Book Bank and Leveling the Playing field. Both organizations needed warehouse space to fulfill their missions, and we were in need as well. Moving into the warehouse allowed us to scale our operations and respond to the increased demand we were beginning to see.
In the spring of 2019, after receiving requests for Bedtime in a Box from around the country, we began operations in Denver. This allowed us to have a second hub for distributions, as well as put down roots and develop partnerships within the early childhood community in Colorado.
Demand for our program has continued to grow and as of the end of the 2018-2019 school year, we delivered our 4,500th Box. That’s $675,000 worth of resources, including 22,500 books and 49,500 additional bedtime materials. We plan to nearly double the number of families served in 2020 to support even more families in the future.