When Ave Weeks-Stephens took over as principal of the Cane End Government School she noticed that the literacy level of the students were well below the expected level for their age and grade level.

There was no official library for the kids at the school so she made it her mission to ensure that one was placed on the compound. Ave witnessed a turn around for the literacy level of the students when Cane End Government School began working with a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer, got connected in 2012 with a nonprofit called Hands Across the Sea, and new books started appearing in the school’s relatively new library. “They just revolutionized things for us,” Weekes-Stephens said about Hands Across the Sea, which is based in Boston.

Cane End Government School isn’t the only school on SVG shores that was blessed with books by the non profit organization, New Prospect Primary School also benefited from the kind gesture. The New Prospect Primary School has only one building on the compound with the classrooms only parted off by chalkboards, partitions and cupboards. The building itself did not boast enough space for a complete library, so the Hands Across The Sea staff helped the principal re-purpose half his office to create a library space and the school right away saw an increase in students’ interest in reading and books, according to the nonprofit.

Reading materials provided by Hands were different because the Hands staff work closely with educators on the ground to develop and fulfill wish lists of books that fit students’ needs and interests. They also help renovate library spaces and cull old or inappropriate books. The nonprofit has been helping to raise children’s literacy levels in the half-dozen English-speaking island nations in the Eastern Caribbean, which also include Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia and Grenada.