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Leaders for Literacy

Team members: Row 1 (l-r): Eric Jarinko, Norma Latta, Maya Pack
Row 2 (l-r): Annie Yukish, Beth Pontari, Jenny Wehrs
Row 3 (l-r): Latorrie Geer, Matthew Cabe, Damon Qualls

The Leaders for Literacy joined forces with Monaview Elementary to promote literacy and specifically support the Men Who Read program. Monaview Elementary is a unique school in Greenville County with a minority enrollment of 68% of the student body (majority Hispanic), which is higher than the South Carolina state average of 49%. Monaview’s Men Who Read, Dress for Success program was created several years ago to bridge the gap between male and female students’ standardized test scores in Reading and English Language Arts. The program also strives to expose the young men to professional men in the community that enjoy reading. The boys meet and listen to a guest reader who shares a book of his choice and then explains how reading plays a role in his career. The boys also receive a blazer and tie to wear during these interactions with their role models. With every Men Who Read session, students can see the connection between reading well, being successful, and looking the part.

The Leaders for Literacy initiative, with Monaview Elementary, had several components. First, DLI members designed and built a Lending Library that was installed on Monaview’s campus in honor of the Men Who Read program. On November 21, 2019, the Leaders for Literacy planned and held an event to both kick-off the Men Who Read Program and dedicate the Lending Library. The event included men’s soccer, basketball, and tennis players from Furman University. The male athletes taught the boys how to tie their ties and read with them prior to the official ribbon cutting ceremony. With the help of the Greenville Drive, each boy in the program received a copy of the book titled “Rising Above,” which is about how athletes overcame challenges in their youth to become stars.

There are several other sustainable components of this project that will continue. The Leaders for Literacy worked with the Greenville County Library System to provide the boys with the opportunity to obtain a library card. Going forward, the boys in the Men Who Read program will be responsible for maintaining the community sharing library with the help of hundreds of donated books collected by our leaders. Finally, two initiatives led to creating and improving learning spaces on Monaview’s campus. First, Leaders for Literacy donated 18 picnic tables to Monaview Elementary School to provide outdoor learning spaces for the children. Second, a mural based on Monaview students’ art, which was painted by the Artist in Residence from the Metropolitan Arts Council, has been installed in the library.