Literacy for Freedom was created in the fall of 2019 by educator Keenan Jones of Hopkins Public Schools located in Hopkins, MN. This organization was created to change the narrative that exists for African American males in the state of Minnesota, while using literacy as the driver. It is a new 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization for African American males in grades 7-12. Literacy for Freedom seeks to dramatically improve academic and life outcomes for African American male students in the Twin Cities metro area.
Key Areas of Focus
Literacy for Freedom focuses on four key areas that are research based and specific to African American male development. Those areas are: mentorship, literacy development, college/career readiness, and community partnerships.
Why African American males?
The educational status of African American males is complex, while many schools are falling short in meeting the needs of these vibrant and intelligent young men. In the book The Souls of Black Folks, W.E.B Dubois begins one of his chapters with the question, "How does it feel to be a problem?". This question was framed within the context of how African American males, striving for social, economic, and political inclusion at the turn of the 20th century. That question still remains as many African American males feel they are a problem in the 21st century.
-47% of Black males graduated within 4 years from U.S schools in comparison to 78% for White males
-Only 34% of Black males read proficiently (all grades tested)
-Black males are grossly underrepresented in gifted education and overrepresented in special education
-Black males (all grades tested) were only 32% proficient on standardized reading tests while White males tested at 64%
-Black males graduated at 66% in comparison to 87% for White males
"Literacy development for Black males is significant because reading and writing difficulties will place these young male youth at risk for academic failure and involvement in maladaptive behaviors." Dr. Alfred Tatum
Goals for Literacy for Freedom
Foster a love for literacy
Emphasize postsecondary education
Support social, emotional, and mental health
Consult with school districts about key interventions specific to AA males
Collaborate with community and families to support AA males
Keenan Jones is a rising educator and leader across the state of Minnesota. Mr. Jones is a champion for children, an innovator in education, writer, husband, and father. He has been in education for 13 years, inspiring students across the Twin Cities. He is an advocate for literacy, social justice in education, equity, and teacher diversity.
Star Tribune article
Why we need your help?
Literacy for Freedom has been in operation for a year and a half, but hasn't been able to do all the things necessary to make a larger impact. Donations will benefit not only the organization, but the young men that are being served. Here are some current needs for the organization:
-internet access ($500)
-books ($3,000 to build a library onsite)
-Community events onsite ($2,000)
-Business liability insurance ($500)
-Advertising and marketing ($2,500)
We are in a critical point in American history, where the fate of the Black man depends upon what we do now. Too many of our young Black men are being murdered by police, dying by gun violence, dropping out of school, and losing hope in the American dream. Investing in Literacy for Freedom will be an investment for Black boys across the state of Minnesota and beyond. Thank you!
Founder of Literacy for Freedom