RICHMOND, Va. -- A recent national study showed that students who can't read proficiently by third grade are six times more likely not graduate to graduate on time from high school than those who can.
They're also four times more likely to not graduate from high school at all.
With that said, Hassan Fountain is working so Richmond students avoid falling into those statistics.
Fountain has a love for books. So much so, that he's affectionately known as "The Book Man."
"Yes sir. The Book Man and I don't mind that. That lets me know that they identify me with something that's positive," said Fountain.
For the past three years, through his foundation Fountain of Youth, where he serves as Chief Executive Officer, he's distributing books to children for free.
"We have actually put over 100,000 books, as of the first week of January, into the community in less than 37 months,” said Fountain.
Thanks to private and public donations, Fountain has held 37 free book fairs at various elementary schools across the state. He has also opened 16 community libraries at almost every public housing property in Richmond.
His latest opening was on February 20 in Whitcomb Court.
"It's my passion. I don't make a lot of money doing this,” said Fountain. “Nobody else would put a lot of time into doing this, but I don't mind though.”
The Whitcomb Court Community Center library debuted with hundreds on books on their shelves, with more to come according to Fountain. Its recreation center supervisor says the library has definitely made an impact with the kids.
"Children are engaged, cause now they have an on-site library to come to and read books, to look at the books. It has really brought the community inside and it's blossoming," said Sherlitha Robinson.
"I want to try to have like a miniature version of a public library, and I want the children to know that they can," said Fountain.
That's how Fountain was raised as the son of a mother who was a librarian.
He says he plans on continuing to open even more libraries in Virginia and has already begun expanding to North Carolina as well.
He also wants to grow his number of distributed books from hundreds of thousands of books to millions.
"It's all about opening the kids minds and keeping them seeing different things. I mean. We have to be proactive to help the children, because without us, they would be lost,” said Fountain. “So, it's very important to be a part of the building process."
If you are interested in donating new or used books, or would like to contribute monetarily, you can contact Hassan Fountain here.