Atlanta Public Schools and Urban League of Greater Atlanta put out a call for support of the third annual Race2Read challenge, and the city’s business community answered. With new businesses, along with civic and educational organizations joining the cause every day, the Race2Read challenge is illustrating how a city can tackle the literacy crisis together.
Engaging the broader community with the Race2Read challenge to boost leisure reading citywide has resulted in a renewed interest in and support of literacy throughout Atlanta–helping the challenge to hit a big milestone toward our 10-million-minute goal, moving past the halfway mark and reaching 7.5 million minutes this April, even amidst another pandemic-challenged school year.
Studies show that literacy is one of the biggest precursors to a child’s success; yet, literacy was a pandemic of its own throughout Atlanta before the coronavirus disrupted in-person learning a year ago. With more than 800,000 people in the region illiterate, and only 36 percent of APS third-graders reading at grade level, educators and leaders, alike, knew there was no time to waste in closing the literacy gap.
“We must unite schools, families, churches, businesses, and public and private sectors committed to our children’s success. The school systems cannot fix the learning deficit alone. Our children’s success is our success and we must Build A City That Reads so that we can Be A City That Leads,” said Nancy Flake Johnson, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta.
The success seen thus far is in large part due to the support of Race2Read Reading Friends (more than 8,880 participants who actively log reading minutes daily and help spread the word about Race2Read), as well as Literacy Champions (community partners showing their support of literacy and Race2Read with donations, special events and more). Race2Read Literacy Champions include, but are not limited to, Atlanta Speech School, City of Atlanta, Cox Media Group, Everybody Wins! Atlanta, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Metropolitan Area Rapid Transit, Page Turners Make Great Learners and, the challenge’s newest champions, Georgia Family Connection and UPS.
In the fall, Page Turners Makes Great Learners (PTMGL) partnered with Race2Read and CBS46 to spearhead a community-wide town hall discussion on race with best-selling authors, community leaders, young professionals and students from around the city (click here to watch). Additionally, literacy-focused Atlanta organizations, such as Atlanta Speech School, Brunner, Cox Media Group, Everybody Wins! Atlanta and PTMGL provide virtual author visits and interactive reading events, as well as assisting with book distributions for numerous schools and housing communities throughout the District to ensure reading materials get into the hands of those who need them the most.
In late April, UPS (via its partner Georgia Family Connection Partnership) will distribute more than 55,000 books throughout the city, with a portion of those books going to APS students in support of Race2Read.
MARTA recently joined the race as well, helping promote the challenge with a bus graphic that can be seen rolling around Atlanta.
For more information on how businesses can help directly support the Race2Read challenge through “wish list” items, including book donations and more, contact APS Media Specialist Jennifer Saunders at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on how businesses can become a Race2Read Friend or Literacy Champion, contact Education Advocate Patrice Barlow at EducationEquity@ulgatl.org. Individuals and families can also help by logging their leisure reading minutes daily at Race2Read.org.