Civic Engagement Profiles - Craig Collister, Madison Dearborn Partners

Civic Engagement Profiles - Craig Collister, Madison Dearborn Partners

February 3, 2016

The definition of civic engagement is the following: individual and collective actions designed to identify and address issues of public concern.

Our fifth profile is Craig Collister, Madison Dearborn Partners, who introduces us to Bernie's Book Bank.

IVCA:  To which one charitable or civic organization do you contribute your time?
Craig Collister:  I’m deeply involved with a local organization called Bernie’s Book Bank.
Bernie's Book Bank facilitates the collection, processing and redistribution of new and gently used children's books to significantly increase BOOK OWNERSHIP among at-risk infants, toddlers and school-age children throughout Chicagoland.  Right now, Bernie’s Book Bank distributes the annual equivalent of approximately two million books to 100,000 children.  The goal is significantly expand those numbers!
IVCA:  How & when did you get involved with Bernie's Book Bank?
Collister:  I joined the board about two years ago.  I also volunteer at the book bank with my family.
IVCA:  Why does Bernie's Book Bank’s mission resonate with you?
Collister:  I have always believed that reading and reading-readiness are critical to educational success.  But I didn’t realize how critical it is to have access to books.  And that there is a solution to get books into the hands of those in need.

This organization was started from nothing but an idea about five years ago.  There was a dream and an idea….and it is taking off.  We are helping to scale Bernie’s Book Bank and then hope to spread its model to other cities beyond Chicago.
IVCA:  How does Bernie's Book Bank measure its success?
Collister:  Bernie’s Book Bank is VERY data driven.  Ultimately, they are trying to efficiently get as many books in the hands of needy children as possible.  They measure the number of books distributed, the number of children served and the cost per book delivered.  (Among other outcome metrics).  Volunteer hours are another critically important input and a sign of success.
IVCA:  Do you have a formal role as a volunteer? If so, what is it and what is required by Bernie's Book Bank in terms of time, talents and wallet?
Collister:  I do volunteer at Bernie’s Book Bank with my family.  The volunteer experience is highly unusual in that it takes essentially no training and can accommodate anyone from @ 2 to 100 years of age.  Literally.  So an entire family can enter the facility and within minutes they can be contributing to the process of preparing books for distribution to needy children.  This allows for “drop-in” volunteer times that don’t require a reservation or a commitment.  On the other end of the spectrum, Bernie’s Book Bank can accommodate large corporate groups of volunteers, too.  The facility is located in the northern-suburbs, so is admittedly difficult for anyone living in Chicago to visit quickly.
IVCA:  Are other IVCA members involved?  If so, how?
Collister:  We have other private equity related professionals on our board.  (A lawyer from DLA Piper, a fundraiser for Lazard etc.)  I would love to see more!
IVCA:  If interested IVCA members want to get involved, what are the options?
Collister:  They could volunteer at the facility.  They could host a book drive.  There are many ways to get involved.
For a full list of board members, click here.

For more information on Bernie's Book Bank please contact the Executive Director, Brian Floriani at [email protected].  Brian founded Bernie’s Book Bank and is an entrepreneur in every sense of the word!