‘Little Free Libraries’ to make big literacy impact through ‘Groomed for Literacy’ collective with HCDE adult learners, City of Houston Public Library

Fifty little libraries which could make a big literacy impact in needy children’s lives are being painted by adult learners enrolled in workforce development classes at Harris County Department of Education and other volunteers. The event will be held on Friday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to noon at 6300 Irvington Blvd., Houston, Texas.Little Free Libraries to make big literacy impact through ‘Groomed for Literacy’ collective with HCDE adult learners, City of Houston Public Library

The collaborative program created by the Houston Public Library, in partnership with Put It In A Book Foundation, called “Groomed for Literacy” provides the wooden little libraries filled with books to barber shops in targeted areas with low-literacy, and low-income youth who have low access to quality books.

The little free libraries feature a barber shop storefront décor complete with red-white-and-blue barber poles. The little free libraries were donated by the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation and the Little Free Library organization. Other partners in the project include the Friends of the Houston Public Library, City of Houston Health Department – My Brother’s Keeper, Hott Blocc Barbershop (pilot location) and Franklin Institute.

“Our adult education students involved with this project can connect with this cause to promote literacy among youth as many of them return to school to better themselves,” said Harris County School Superintendent James Colbert, Jr. “They see the value in this program and are offering to volunteer their time to encourage youth to read.”

This past fall, students in an adult education workforce development class helped to construct the little free libraries at the launch event announcing the program. After painting is completed, the Houston Public Library will work with local barber shops to implement the program. Service areas include Fifth Ward, Third Ward, East Little York, Independence Heights, Clinton Park, Sharpstown, Gulfgate, Hobby and several dozen additional neighborhoods.

Several of the students putting finishing touches on the little free libraries are enrolled in a construction class through HCDE. The basic construction and safety skills class is called Core Curriculum Certification.

Student Leonardo Cordova took the class with a number of other employees laid off from General Electric last December.

“It’s a good feeling to help other people,” said Cordova. “I look forward to volunteering to get the job done.”

Harris County Department of Education Adult Education provides opportunity for adult learners to enroll in GED or English as a second language classes while also preparing them for new careers in the construction industry. For more information about classes, go to www.hcde-texas.org/adulteducation .

Photo: (left) Harris County Department of Education teacher Clifton Hypolite helps adult learner Leonardo Cordova with finishing touches on a prototype “little library” which will hold free age appropriate books. The collaborative between HCDE Adult Education and the City of Houston Public Library System provides 50 little libraries for barber shops located in targeted neighborhoods with low-literacy, low-income youth. The workforce class taking on the project provides a combined GED class with Core Curriculum for construction.

About HCDE Adult Education: With a 30-year track record, HCDE Adult Education provides classes to adult learners with a goal to “learn to earn,” including adult basic literacy and math skills, GED, English as a second language and vocational training. Classes are held in 35 community locations throughout Harris and Liberty counties. Communities include Baytown, Alief, Channelview, Cy-Fair, Deer Park, Galena Park, Goose Creek, Katy, Klein, Pasadena, Sheldon, Spring Branch and Liberty. Corporations also benefit from HCDE services provided to English language learning employees aimed at improving productivity and safety in the workplace.  For more information, access www.hcde-texas.org/adulteducation .

Harris County Department of Education: HCDE helps school districts in the state’s largest county meet the needs of uniquely challenged learners, directly serving students at their schools or one of four HCDE-operated campuses across the county. Learn about these services and more at www.hcde-texas.org .

About Groomed for Literacy: Groomed for Literacy, is an innovative effort being taken by the Houston Public Library, community leaders and organizations to connect youth, specifically boys of color, to literacy, books, positive role models and valuable educational resources in their community to help address the literacy gap. This initiative will help ensure that these youth regardless of their background will have an additional sources of support and opportunity to better their educational outcomes.  The goals of Groomed for Literacy are to: increase the number of books in the community, increase the number of books on the home, provide library resources to youth and their families in support of literacy attainment, create a vehicle for community members to partner in support of literacy advancement, support citywide efforts for kindergarten readiness and reading at grade level, increase public awareness regarding the importance of access to books and literacy, and increase the number of Little Free Libraries with the city.

Thirty communities have been identified as meeting the criteria for having high populations of individuals with low literacy, high populations of individuals with low income and low access to quality books. The goal is to place a total of 1-2 Little Free Libraries in select barbershops within the targeted communities.

Groomed for Literacy key partners include: Little Free Library, Put it in a Book Foundation, Hott Blocc Barbershop, Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation, My Brother’s Keeper, and Friends of the Houston Public Library.

About Put It In A Book Foundation: Put It In A Book Foundation was created by two KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program): Houston Public Schools educators whose vision is to change children’s lives through the power of a book. As educators they know the importance of books in the home and they wanted to go Beyond Z for their students and families by free books to them. They are currently in the process of applying for our non-profit and tax exempt status. Our mission is to change the lives of the youth through the power of a book. Their main focus areas are Literacy, College Readiness and Financial Literacy.

About the Houston Public Library: The Houston Public Library (HPL) operates 35 neighborhood libraries, four HPL Express Libraries, a Central Library, the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, The African American Library at the Gregory School, and the Parent Resource Library located in the Children’s Museum of Houston. With more than eight million visits per year in person and online, HPL is committed to excellent customer service and equitable access to information and programs by providing library customers with free use of a diverse collection of printed materials and electronic resources, Internet, laptop and computer use, and a variety of database and reference resources with live assistance online 24/7.

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