Partnerships make Words on the Street possible. Through the generous funding of the Knight Foundation’s Black Male Engagement Challenge, which awarded Solomon Jones with a 2012 leadership award for his work in creating the Words on the Street program, we were able to double our reach in the 2011-2012 school year, impacting six schools, distributing nearly 800 books, and conducting workshops with 160 students and 30 parents. The BME Challenge, led by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in partnership with the Open Society Foundations’ Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA), is an ongoing initiative that seeks to recognize, reinforce and reward black males from all walks of life who engage others in making communities stronger.
The Verizon Foundation provided the initial funding to start the Words on the Street program in the 2010-2011 school year. After reviewing the results of the program’s first year, Verizon saw quantifiable progress and provided additional funding, allowing us to expand the program in the 2011-2012 school year. The Verizon Foundation is focused on using technology to solve critical social issues in the areas of sustainability, education, and health care. Through the support of Verizon’s employees and resources, the Verizon Foundation helps to address the needs of communities around the world.
Art Sanctuary is our non-profit partner. Their creative input and fiscal management has been crucial to making this program successful and allowing it to expand. Founded in North Philadelphia, Art Sanctuary uses the power of black art to transform individuals, unite groups of people, and enrich, and draw inspiration from the inner city. Art Sanctuary invites established and aspiring artists to help create excellent lectures, performances, and educational programs. Words on the Street has become a part of Art Sanctuary’s work in the community, and we are proud to partner with that organization.
Our media partners at Clear Channel Radio are instrumental in helping to publicize Words on the Street to prospective schools. Clear Channel also makes sure the students voices are heard in interviews that air on Power 99 FM and WDAS FM, two major stations in the nation’s fourth largest media market. Our media partners at the Philadelphia Inquirer have committed to publishing the stories of our winning students in September and October 2012, much as its sister paper, the Philadelphia Daily News, published winning student stories in 2011. Both newspapers have been instrumental in making Words on the Street a strong presence in the literacy community.
Barnes & Noble, the nation’s largest book store chain, has been an important partner in the Words on the Street program, not only supporting the work of Words on the Street, but going beyond their initial commitment to donate books and funds to support additional literacy efforts. Barnes & Noble is a true community partner, and we look forward to working with Barnes & Noble going forward.
The Philadelphia School District’s Parent University joined Words on the Street in 2012, and their partnership has allowed the program to reach parents in a holistic and effective manner. Parents have participated in free workshops, received books at no cost, and were part of the awards ceremony for the winning students from the six participating schools. We look forward to continuing our work with Parent University in the 2012-2013 school year.
Our key partners also include the teachers and administrators from the participating schools: Bartram High School, Camden High School, Fels High School, Mastery-Shoemaker, Randolph High School, and South Philadelphia High School. This program would not be possible without them.