‘Lifting through Literacy’ pilot to serve as model of community involvement

Ministers Alliance to support HISD’s Literacy By 3 program at Burrus, Kennedy

Almost 20 faith-based organizations in the Independence Heights community have joined forces to lend their support to HISD’s Literacy By 3 initiative at two neighborhood elementary schools.

Members of the Independence Heights Greater Houston Ministers Alliance (IHGHMA) met with HISD Board of Education President Rhonda Skillern-Jones, Curriculum Specialist Carley Colton, and representatives from Scholastic, Inc., and the Bush Houston Literacy Foundation on April 9 to discuss plans for “Lifting Through Literacy,” a summer reading challenge that will benefit students at both Burrus and Kennedy elementary schools—and possibly serve as a model for other struggling communities.

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“Illiteracy gives birth to dropouts, joblessness, crime, and teen pregnancy,” explained Reverend Ray Mackey, who serves as chairperson for the IHGHMA. “I envision this pilot as a program that will show how faith-based organizations can get involved to make an impact. And if it’ll work in Independence Heights, then it’ll work in Acres Homes or Hiram Clarke or Sunnyside or Kashmere Gardens.”

“Literacy is the most important building block in the tower of learning,” added Skillern-Jones. “It is the foundation of everything else. And any time we can get people who are willing to work in our schools to combat the summer slide, we are grateful.”

“This is the first little bite of a big apple,” said Neil Bush, chairman of the Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. “This alliance can serve as a model, not just of literacy, but of service.”

Details of the challenge are still being finalized, but organizers say they envision a friendly competition between the two schools with prizes provided by Scholastic, the Bush Foundation, or other supporters.