While volunteering at a local nonprofit providing free books to low-income children, Benjamin Olshin learned about the importance of early literacy for school and social success and started thinking about babies. Olshin learned of research demonstrating that Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) babies, especially those cared for in single rooms, have higher rates of deficits in speech and language development; yet reading, singing and talking with NICU babies appears to support infant speech and language development, promote literacy and support family bonding.

Determined to make a difference, Olshin, who has received The Association of Fundraising Professional's Youth in Philanthropy Award, founded Babies With Books in 2017 with a team of engaged peers who shared his passion. Today, the youth-led program supplies books to babies in the Randall Children's Hospital NICU. In their first 18 months, BWB distributed 790 books to 300 families and received generous corporate and individual financial sponsorship. Moreover, family feedback surveys reveal that the program is increasing the amount of time families spend reading with their babies by more than doubling their average daily reading time, increasing from 11 to 28 minutes per day, and have tripled the number of weekly reading sessions, from 2 to 6 sessions per week. BWB has 12 teen volunteers from five Portland high schools and four adult volunteers and continuously recruits younger team members to support and grow the program.