May 20, 2021

EquipmentShare Inspires the Next Generation of Thinkers to Love Reading with Heart of Missouri United Way Literacy Program


As children, EquipmentShare’s co-founders Jabbok and Willy Schlacks loved their local library. The brothers checked out books that taught them about computer science, technology, business — you name it — and soaked up the knowledge from every page. Today, as business owners and founders, they credit part of their success to reading. They believe that if you can read, then you can unlock so much potential in life.

That’s why EquipmentShare jumped at the chance to partner with the Heart of Missouri United Way to kick off the second year of its literacy program. The charitable organization’s literacy program provides books to local first and second graders within the Columbia, Mo., public schools district to help them build their at-home library.

"Being able to read and having access to books opens up doors for children,” EquipmentShare President Willy Schlacks said. “My brother and I know strong reading skills are part of the foundation of success for everyone, which is why we were grateful to participate in the Tools for Success literacy program.”
EquipmentShare team loading up more than 2,000 books to distribute to local students

The program provides reading resources to students with below-average reading skills for their grades and aims to help them learn to love reading. As the organization’s partner in the 2021 initiative, we worked with Heart of Missouri United Way to select several books that would teach young students about science, technology, engineering and mathematics — otherwise known as STEM subjects. By giving students access to STEM-focused literature in their formative years, we are helping to build the next generation of STEM-smart children in our community. Together with Heart of Missouri United Way, we selected titles like “Buzzing with Questions” and “Cece Loves Science” to get local students thinking about how science makes an impact in their everyday lives.

“As part of our organization’s mission to support our community, we provide reading materials to students to foster learning and a love of reading from an early age,” said Andrew Grabau, executive director of Heart of Missouri United Way. “We appreciate EquipmentShare lending a hand with our literacy program so we could give hundreds of young readers the tools they need to succeed.”
Team members assembling backpacks filled with books and school supplies

The EquipmentShare team at our headquarters came together to help assemble the “Tools for Success” reading kits for each student in the program. Each kit featured a backpack full of the selected books, a child-sized face mask, school supplies and resources that educated each student’s family about the local library.

In total, the team distributed more than 2,000 books to students across seven different public schools in the area. As our employees dropped the backpacks off at each school, they witnessed just how excited teachers were to give their students these tools for success.

Our mission as a company is to drive productivity in the construction industry through technology. Without a sense of wonder and curiosity, we couldn’t achieve that mission — and it all starts with fostering curiosity at a young age. That’s why we want to inspire the next generation of thinkers to possess a curious spirit by putting books in their hands. Our team of innovators approach every task and project with curiosity. Curiosity pushes our customers to explore new ways of solving old problems. It’s this same spirit that helps us innovate, create cutting-edge technology products and push our industry forward.

Local students with their Tools for Success reading kits
“As a construction technology company that’s developing new and better ways to build, we believe it’s important to invest in our future workforce and share our personal story of literacy empowerment to connect with others,” Schlacks said. “This is just one step toward bridging the reading gap in our community, and it helps children see that they, too, can dream big.”

EquipmentShare is dedicated to helping today’s contractors accelerate productivity on the jobsite through the use of technology. Whether it’s building AI-equipped cameras to ensure jobsite safety, creating robotics equipment that improve job precision, or developing a globally connected telematics platform to help contractors everywhere increase efficiency, our sights are set on discovering the construction solutions of tomorrow.

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