Saline, Mich. – June 5, 2013 – Bess the Book Bus and CITGO recently visited three Saline, Mich., schools to celebrate literacy and distribute 1,600 free books. More than 1,100 students at Harvest, Heritage and Pleasant Ridge elementary schools picked out their very own books to keep. This year’s visits also included read-aloud sessions for students in kindergarten through third grade at each of the three schools.

“Michigan is such a special state for us to visit,” said Jennifer Frances, founder of Bess the Book Bus. “There is so much enthusiasm, excitement and talent in these schools. It’s absolutely magical to see all of those things come alive through our books. We are so grateful to all of the teachers who helped us organize these in-school events, and we’re so appreciative for CITGO, who connected us to the schools and made it possible for Bess to make the trip out here.”

Founded in 2002, Bess the Book Bus’ mission is to promote literacy and provide underserved children with access to new and engaging books. Frances has grown the program into one of the nation’s most innovative mobile literacy initiatives. Each year, she and her network of volunteers take Bess the Book Bus directly to underserved communities to read to children and provide, for many youngsters, their first new book. Through support from CITGO and other corporate sponsors, Bess the Book Bus has covered more than 48 states, supported more than 60,000 families and donated more than 450,000 books.

“We were very excited at the opportunity to connect Bess with Harvest, Heritage and Pleasant Ridge,” said Devin Corn, senior territory sales manager for CITGO in Michigan. “This is the community where we live, and these are the schools that our children attend. After watching the positive impact that Bess the Book Bus, Jennifer Frances and all of her volunteers have had across the country, it was an honor to host them here in Saline.”

This week marked Bess the Book Bus’ first visit to the Detroit area since 2012 when Tami Salisbury with Eight Mile Boulevard Association (8MBA), a Detroit-based community improvement organization, and CITGO helped Frances connect with Mercedes-Benz USA. The introduction led to the generous donation of a brand new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van, which enabled Frances to continue her nationwide tour of schools, community centers and after-school programs. To-date, Frances has logged 30,000 miles and given away more than 70,000 books with the new vehicle.

“We truly appreciate the generosity and thoughtfulness of our friends at Eight Mile Boulevard, CITGO and Mercedes. We are especially grateful to Devin, who spent so much of his own time helping us out with some of our toughest projects. His help has been invaluable to us, and we can’t thank him enough for always making the effort to get his hands dirty and help us change lives,” Frances said. “It really is the power of collaboration that makes Bess the Book Bus successful and, after five trips to the Detroit area, it was such a joy to drive the brand new Bess the Book Bus through Michigan. We want to say thank you to everyone who helped keep Bess rolling!”

About CITGO Petroleum
Based in Houston, CITGO is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals and other industrial products. The company is owned by PDV America, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information, visit

About Bess the Book Bus
Bess the Book Bus is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization committed to extending literacy across the country. Run by Jennifer Frances of Tampa, Fla., the organization visits local communities across the country in a specially designed "book bus," coordinating reading events and providing children with a free, new book for them to keep. For more information, visit