Everyone’s heard that jail cells are built off of 3rd grade reading levels. And as we all know, our young black males in particular make up a horrifically disproportionate percentage of that prison population. Consequently, many philanthropic efforts have focused on preparing these students to read at an acceptable level by the 3rd grade. But what about our young students of color beyond that? More than 60% of 8th and 12th graders score below the proficient level in reading achievement. United Way’s African-American Partnership (AAP) recognized this gap in the Greater Atlanta area – and we’ve decided to make this a sincere focus. We also know that tackling these issues regionally is no small feat. It takes money, energy, time and talent to make a difference.
As AAP members, we believe in philanthropy, leadership and service, and we currently raise $2.2M annually for the Greater Atlanta community. We’ve designed our Build-a-Library Project to improve access to literacy programs and services for boys of color with the goals of helping them to remain in school, be engaged in learning and start developing a plan for their future. It’s going to take $5,000 to build just one such library for these students. We need to build several to cover Greater Atlanta.
Enter THE Russell Simmons.
We’ve upped our game and made our keynote speaker for our Leadership Luncheon (April 24th, Georgia Freight Depot) none other than hip hop and entrepreneurial mogul Russell Simmons – co-founder of Def Jam, renown author and philanthropist – knowing that he will bring the attention needed to give our fundraising a significant boost for Build-a-Library.