School Library Makeover with Target & Todd Oldham

Many wonderful things have come from the birth of this blog, including many experiences that I’ve gotten to share with my children that we’ll remember forever. Perhaps it’s an internal need to share these benefits that I’ve reaped, or maybe it’s the human element that requires me to give back in any way that I can. Regardless, because of this platform I’ve been given some incredible opportunities to help our community as well and it’s those times that have meant the very most to me. Especially if I am able to bring my children along to contribute to any cause.

A week before Hurricane Sandy hit, I was invited to celebrate with Target while they unveiled one of their Library School Makeovers in Staten Island-one of the communities that was affected the most by the storm.

I brought Zoe and Beau to the grand celebration of PS 21’s new library and art room, an elementary school in Staten Island that was in great need of both. It was a feeling I’ll not soon forget, watching the joy on the student’s faces while their new space was unveiled to them, and having my own children be apart of it as well.


Since 2007, Target has renovated 118 school libraries through the Target School Library Makeover program, in partnership with The Heart of America Foundation. As part of the program, each school receives 2,000 new books; larger spaces with new carpet, furniture and technology; and seven new books for each student to take home. After the renovation, a local Target store is linked with each school to provide ongoing financial and volunteer resources. In 2012, they’ll transform another 32 libraries across the country, and they’ll award a total of $1.5 million in reading grants to more than 100 alumni schools, helping us reach our goal to improve more libraries.

One of the key partners in PS 21’s renovation is Todd Oldham. Oldham is a famous designer that has teamed up with Target to create Kid Made Modern, a truly fantastic line of art supplies and super modern crafts for children. (My kids and I love them.) He donated his design expertise, his time, and a ton of Kid Made Modern products to the students of this elementary school in Staten Island. He very clearly poured his heart into this project as well.


We decorated blocks with the students that would eventually be placed into a wall structure at the school, and I found a moment to talk to Todd a little bit about his involvement in such an incredible project.

“I was very excited to be a part of the Target team, because having this one sort of be in my back yard-I live in Tribeca-this is pretty close, and getting to meet the principals, librarians and teachers just thrilled me-that I could be apart of making this art and library experience a more beautiful one for these kids”, he says. For him it was also a bit personal. “The art room saved my life. I had trouble attending my classes so I was always hiding out in the art room or the library. I can’t imagine not having these things in your life. Target’s unbridled generosity is so impressive to me.”

Indeed. Target and Todd Oldham truly created vibrant and beautiful spaces in the art room and library using donated Maharam and Alexander Girard textiles & prints along with all of the other resources needed for the renovation.

School Library Makeover
The art room, before and after. Photo courtesy of Target.

The library before and after. Top photo courtesy of Target.

Their generosity didn’t stop at the library and art room renovations. As a part of the Library Makeover, each student at the school went home with 16 pounds of food through Target’s Meals for Minds program with Feeding America, as well as a stack of new books and a bag full of Kid Made Modern supplies.


The energy at the school was contagious amongst the excited children and parents, but mostly it was the hundreds of Target employees themselves that were there volunteering their time that were the most exuberant. It was a spectacle of the best kind.


As far as we know, the school itself didn’t sustain any (or it was minimal) damage from Hurricane Sandy. I was told, though, that the families of the children that attend PS 21 were most grateful to have the food in their homes by the time the storm hit.

I couldn’t be happier to be on Target’s Inner Circle team to witness and share the great ways they are giving back to communities, and especially their dedication to education. In conjunction with my relationship with Target as an Inner Circle member, I reached out to them for donations to our Hurricane Sandy effort. While they have already donated over $500,000 to relief efforts, they generously sent me $500 towards my trip to Staten Island to deliver donations. I’ll go into it more in another post, but I am so proud to be working with them. It only confirms to me that I’m doing something right with this space, and I am humbled by opportunities that come along like this that allow me to do something to help others.


Join the Conversation


  • Yes, positive things are happening because you are here! I agree. Wonderful, Jessica. You always move in the right direction.

  • This is really amazing Jessica and what a beautiful example you are able to mold for your own children. In the wake of Sandy, it’s the direction that we all need to move it.

  • How awesome!! Those new facilities are gorgeous!!!

  • Our school library needs a major make over. Any help you could give would be greatly appreciated. I only have large chairs and tables so our students in K-2 have to set on the floor. It is a dark place and in no way is motivating our students to have a love for learning to read or explore. PLEASE HELP

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