Today we’d like to introduce you to Khalil and Nicole Thompson.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
The story of the Empowered Readers Literacy Project began when our daughter Selah came home from her first day of kindergarten visibly upset. She was shocked that so many of her peers didn’t know how to read and some didn’t even know their ABCs.
We took it as a real teachable moment and explained to her that many families don’t have the same access and resources. That was the moment that would change our family’s life forever.
While Selah understood our explanation, she was dissatisfied with the answer and challenged us to help her find a way to make change. We accepted the challenge and set out to help her find fun and imaginative ways to inspire kids of all backgrounds to read.
Additionally, other goals include benefitting underserved communities and offering books that illustrate the diverse families reading them. We believe that books with diverse, engaging content shared in connection with real human interaction will get kids excited about reading on their own and with their families.
What started as a small book drive for Selah’s school is now a nonprofit with the vision of eradicating the epidemic of illiteracy among children and their families.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Because we have stayed focused on Selah’s goal of getting kids like her excited about books and ensuring that they have access to books, our destination has remained the same while the path to get there has evolved. As we dove deeper into the issue, we were shocked by what we found. Statistics show that: 68% of Atlanta Public School students cannot read proficiently by the end of 3rd Grade, and nationally, 2/3 of students who cannot read by 4th grade end up in jail or on welfare. Even the US Department of Justice asserts that the link between academic failure and delinquency, violence and crime is welded to reading failure.
We believe that for many kids, the end of their stories is being written despite their not having any say in the narrative. With this information in tow, we have been compelled to come up with creative ways to empower kids to reclaim their own story.
In addition to giving away books, other goals of our nonprofit include benefitting underserved communities and offering books that illustrate the diverse families reading them. We believe that books with diverse, engaging content shared in connection with real human interaction will get kids excited about reading on their own and with their families.
Please tell us about Empowered Readers Literacy Project.
We are a nonprofit organization specializing in building excitement about reading — in kids and their families. We are most proud of the success of our Inaugural March to 20Hundred Thousand Books: A Children’s March for Literacy. We were so pleased that about 400 of the nearly 1,300 people registered still showed up in the cold and the rain and had an amazing time. The outpouring of love and support we received from the community, the schools, the students, churches, and local businesses was tremendous. We collected nearly 3,100 books and $7,000 for the Little Free Libraries — a great start toward our goal of 5,000 books and $30,000 to plant 72 libraries. When it was time to take to the streets to start The March, we were led by local elementary school kids and a kids marching band drum line. The energy was electric. The March culminated with kids from local elementary schools excitedly and gleefully surrounding the 3 Little Free Libraries that they decorated as we dedicated them to the neighborhood. It was a magical day!
We are kid-inspired and kid-led, and we always view our activities and solutions through a kid’s lens sets us apart from others.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Our ability to galvanize our local Atlanta neighborhoods (e.g., children, families, schools, churches, businesses) is most important to our success.
- Reclaim Your Story Literacy Scarf – $25 donation
- Lit Tags – $10 donation
- Empowered Readers Create Your Own Story Book – $10 donation
- Reclaim Your Story Lit Wrist Bands – $5 donation
- Flags for Literacy (2) – $7 donation
- Limited Edition Children’s March for Literacy Illustration Print – $50 donation
- Website: www.empoweredreaders.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: empowered_readers
- Facebook: empoweredreaders
- Twitter: empoweredreade1
- Other: https://empowered-readers.myshopify.com/
Trenton Brown & RM Lathan