Fall 2021 serves as the inaugural year for the launch for The 100 Black Men of Austin, Inc.’s Cultural Competency Initiative. The initiative, part of its mentoring and education programs, will provide culturally relevant books to 100 kindergarten teachers in underserved communities across Austin. The goal is to increase literacy, make reading fun for kids, and support teachers by providing resources to engage with their students.
Book titles were identified in partnership with Black Pearl Books – a local, minority-owned bookstore. Schools in underserved communities including East Austin, Del Valle, and Pflugerville were identified, and kindergarten teachers from the respective schools were contacted and invited to participate.
Each book bundle includes seven children’s books that provide a culturally relevant perspective in which kids can relate, as well as a book for teachers (co-authored by a UT professor and Texas State professor who collectively teach bilingual, bicultural early childhood education) that focuses on agency, racism, and learning in the early grades.
Other community partners have joined in to support the Cultural Competency Initiative, whose goal is to do this each year while annually adding the consecutive grade level until all grades at the identified elementary schools have a classroom library that represents the students they teach.
“It’s important for children to see themselves in literature. Our goal is to make reading fun for our children,” says Karl Spencer, President, 100 Black Men of Austin, Inc.
Teachers came to Black Pearl Books July 31, 2021, where they also received a backpack, puzzle, $50 gift card, and Black Pearl shirt to support and enhance their teaching efforts in the classroom.