On Monday, May 16, 2016 at Tougaloo College the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (www.coseboc.org), a national education organization focusing on increasing academic outcomes for boys of color, is joined with the Jackson Public Schools and Mississippi Action Network for Uplifting Promise (MANUP) to sponsor the Young Males of Color Reading Challenge.
The effort was part of COSEBOC’s work in three school districts (Jackson, McComb and Sun Flower) in Mississippi to provide elementary school principals with greater support and resources to address literacy, parent engagement, and teacher effectiveness particularly for boys of color.
The event connected elementary school age boys of color with books written and illustrated by African American males. The COSEBOC team included Fathers Incorporated’s Executive Director, Kenneth Braswell, Jerry Craft, Eric Velasquez and David Miller. Each author and illustrator has a unique background in working with children and families promoting literacy and educational excellence.
According to the National Assessment for Educational process only 12% of African American males are proficient in reading by eighth grade. The data underscores the need to focus greater resources and attention targeted toward younger readers in the primary grades.
“Literacy has become a national challenge in many communities across this country. Our goal is to connect parents, teachers and students with culturally relevant and academically appropriate reading materials. Often young males of color don’t see themselves on the pages of books,” stated Ron Walker, the Executive Director of Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color.
The Young Males of Color Reading Challenge provided 450 elementary school boys in third through fifth grades over 900 books. Each student receiving two signed books each. In the future the challenge will continue to feature mini book talks, book signings and special illustrator’s presentations.