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The Difference a Book Can Make

2020 United Way Book Donations

September 10, 2020

Athene’s Kristi Burma, executive vice president of human resources, shares an easy way for everyone to play a role in boosting kids’ self-esteem and long-term success.



At Athene, we believe all children deserve the opportunity to thrive in an educational setting to establish a strong foundation for their future. Reading is a vital cornerstone of this foundation. By partnering with multiple community organizations and offering engaging ways for our employees to volunteer or give, Athene is working to help close educational gaps in our local communities.

These gaps persist, and often widen, throughout a student’s education. Studies show that 40% of elementary students struggle with learning how to read or are reading below grade-level expectations — that’s two out of every five children. When child literacy is strong, so is academic success, improved self-esteem, better decision making and personal empowerment.

Stuff the Bus Book Donations

One of the initiatives we support is United Way’s Stuff the Bus campaign. For the past 10 years, Athene has been the corporate sponsor of this annual effort to collect new and gently used books and get them into the hands of the children who need them most. Research shows having greater access to books leads to higher reading scores and, ultimately, a better chance of graduating from high school.

This year, Stuff the Bus will play a vital role as part of United Way of Central Iowa’s Annual Day of Action on Tuesday, September 15. We’ll be collecting book donations at Athene’s headquarters in West Des Moines (7700 Mills Civic Pkwy) from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Over the years, dozens of Greater Des Moines (DSM) companies have joined to make this a record-breaking and impactful event for our community.

I challenge DSM businesses to help us make a meaningful impact in the lives of children in our community by hosting a company book drive! We all win when all children in our community have the educational resources needed to develop strong reading skills that will last a lifetime.

I hope to see you on September 15!

Greater Des Moines (DSM) has one of the best business climates in the country. The region is nationally recognized for having a talented and educated workforce, a cost of doing business 17% below the national average, a low cost of living and an exceptional quality of life.

Kristi Kaye Burma

Kristi Burma is executive vice president of human resources at Athene and a member of the Greater Des Moines Partnership Inclusion Council. She is passionate about employee engagement, giving back to the Des Moines community, and spending time outdoors, especially if it involves time with her family.