We Need Diverse Books’ coffers have filled up after Daniel Handler announced on Friday morning that he was donating $10,000 to the organization's Indiegogo fundraising campaign, and that he would also match for 24 hours up to $100,000 all contributions made to the fund in honor of Jacqueline Woodson. WNDB announced Monday that Handler will be sending a check to the organization for $110,000, which will result in WNDB’s having raised $321,901 through the Indiegogo to date. The Indiegogo campaign concludes on December 10.
WNDB actually raised $70,000 this past weekend during the 24-hour period that Handler promised to match contributions up to $100,000. Dork Diaries series author Rachel Renée Russell, who is also a member of WNDB’s advisory committee, pledged $30,000 to fulfill Handler’s entire pledge.
"When I heard that Daniel Handler was matching donations for 24 hours to celebrate Jacqueline Woodson’s National Book Award win, I wanted to help him donate the maximum amount of funds to We Need Diverse Books, which is a very worthy cause,” Russell said.
“By matching Mr. Handler’s pledge, Ms. Russell has assured that funding for the Walter Grants and Awards and our WNDB internship program will have long term sustainability,” Lamar Giles, WNDB's v-p of communications, stated in a release. All funds raised will support initiatives including the WNDB in the Classroom project, scheduled to launch in January 2015 in partnership with An Open Book Foundation; the Walter Dean Myers Grants and Awards; WNDB’s publishing industry internship program; WNDB educational kits put together in partnership with School Library Journal; and WNDB’s other programs.
Daniel Handler, the m.c. for this year’s National Book Awards, had made comments about Woodson’s allergy to watermelon during the Nov. 20 ceremony that ignited a firestorm of controversy afterwards. He responded to the criticisms by apologizing for his remarks, which he admitted were racist, and by announcing his financial support for WNDB and its mission of making multicultural books and their authors more accessible to young readers.
WNDB gave away as “featured” swag for each $75 contribution during the 24-hour period that Handler matched donations a signed copy of Woodson’s novel, Brown Girl Dreaming, which won this year’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. More than 150 copies had been given away to contributors by Saturday morning.