United Way’s African American Leadership Society’s education equity efforts

One of their focuses is on education equity and the role that third-grade reading proficiency plays.
Published: Feb. 8, 2021 at 7:16 PM CST
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - February is nationally recognized as Black History Month. A month dedicated to reflect, honor, and educate. Throughout the month, United Way’s African American Leadership Society (AALS) is celebrating and educating through various efforts. One of their focuses is on education equity and the role that third-grade reading proficiency plays.

“Hitting those benchmarks by third grade is a very key indicator of possible success in the future,” said Kayla Babers AALS Project Manager.

Research done by the United Way showed the widened gap within demographics.

“In the Quad Cities here, there are disparities. When it comes to African-American children,” Babers said, “we’re seeing that African-American kids may be lacking, not due to intelligence or capabilities, but just due to kind of systemic things that play a role in our local education system.”

United Way research showed that in the Quad Cities:

- 43% of African-American 3rd graders can read at grade level, compared to 73% of white third graders.

-17% of Black Quad Citizens do not complete high school within four years, compared to 10% of white students.

-One in five (21.6%) African-American Quad Citizens over the age of 25 never completed high school, compared to only 6.5% of their white peers.

“It takes little, it takes planting little seeds to close those education gaps in those opportunity gaps,” Babers said.

Those seeds include AALS’ commitment to boost reading proficiency. The organization has a community partnership with Madison Elementary in Davenport. They’re planning to distribute copies of the children’s book, “How Little Billy Learned to Play”, by Shellie Moore-Guy, a story loosely based on ,jazz musician and Quad-Cities-native, Bill Bell.

“We want to make sure we integrate black literature, black narratives, and black voices into the education curriculum and things like that because I think it’s really important not only for little African-American kids but all kids of demographics to see these stories of people that don’t look like them,” Babers said.

For more information about United Way and AALS’ Black History Month and equity efforts, visit www.unitedwayqc.org/blackhistorymonth.

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