Shelton High’s Jain helping students, one book at a time
AP classes and standardized tests are standard practice for today’s high school students — but the necessary preparation can come with a cost.
Study materials can have students digging deep in their pockets, and for many young people, that cost can be as tough to handle as the class or test itself. But one Shelton High School student is hoping to ease that financial burden.
Siddharth Jain, a rising high school senior, has created Benefit Books Corp., a 501(c)(3) pending nonprofit, designed for students to not only obtain free study textbooks but also donate the appropriate books. At this point, Jain has some 15 books available on the site, and he continues to make the call for more donations.
“I want to help those underprivileged or under-resourced students get access to the prep books so they are at the same caliber for the exams,” said Jain. “If students are not able to prepare for them, they will not able to succeed, which creates more difficulty for them later.”
Through benefitbooks.org, students can find specific study texts, and individuals can donate books. At this point, Jain has some 15 books available on the site, but his hope is that through publicity and corporate assistance those numbers will grow with the new school year fast approaching.
“As I went through school taking APs and SATs, I realized you needed outside prep books like Barron’s and Princeton Review to survive,” said Jain. “Going to class was never enough.
“Every year, I bought many college exam prep books to prepare for AP exams and the SAT,” added Jain. “When I reached out to local libraries, they either did not own, or had very few copies, of the books I was looking for. I would repeatedly resort to Amazon to buy the book. In just a few weeks, the books were collecting dust in my closet.”
Jain said after talking to his friends in high school, he realized this was prevalent with other students as well. If not at the library, Jain said texts can be found on Amazon or other used book or trading sites, but Jain said that can cost students upward of $100.
“Many underprivileged students in Shelton and surrounding towns are just not able to afford the books,” said Jain. “I wanted to develop a medium through which students can donate books for underprivileged and under-resourced students to use. In 2019, I founded Benefit Books to do just that. Benefit Books promotes a more equal education system and global sustainability.”
Jain said his site offers an organized way for students to find the specific study text they are seeking. The books are delivered free of charge. A $5 donation is suggested, with the money used to help fund new books and offset delivery fees.
Jain is working alongside his younger sister, Sanjana, an incoming Shelton High freshman, as digital marketing adviser, and his friend Arnav Paliwal, an incoming junior at Amite High School, as the marketing adviser. And Jain has also sought advice from Shelton-based York & Chapel, an independent, full-service digital marketing agency.
“I want to create equal opportunities for all students,” said Jain. “I want to help those students who do not have access have the same opportunity as those that are a little more affluent or spent more money on prep books and exams.
“Once I get the word out what we are doing, I hope to build a much bigger library with donations. Then I can also go to surrounding towns, like New Haven and Bridgeport, to help those teachers and students get the books that they desperately need,” added Jain.