“To presume that reading itself will transform conditions that plague young men such as poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, crime, and irresponsible fathering is recklessly naïve; however, to ignore the potential of active literacy for ensuring that fewer adolescent males become nowhere kids is equally naïve.”
William Brozo (2002)
National data and research shows that a persistent literacy achievement gap exists for African-American male children and adolescents, and that lack of adequate literacy skills contributes to negative life outcomes for these children, including a continuance of intergenerational poverty, imprisonment, and substance abuse. Historically, libraries and librarians have actively embraced a role in promoting literacy, and the library profession continues to play an important role in this arena. Yet, there is currently no coordinated national effort among the library community to address the literacy achievement gap that persists for African-American males.
With funding from a 2011 grant awarded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), The School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the School of Library and Information Science at North Carolina Central University hosted the summit Building a Bridge to Literacy for African-American Male Youth: A Call to Action for the Library Community in June, 2012. The outcome for this summit was the development and dissemination of a report designed to inform a board range of stakeholders about the magnitude of the crisis, offer recommendations, including a research agenda, about how the library community can actively address the literacy needs of African-American male youth, and encourage collaboration among the library community, the education community, and other local, state, and national agencies to address this gap.
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