BRONX, NY — U.S Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Homework Helpers has announced, today, its official partnership with literacy non-profit, Start Lighthouse. The partnership was made official after discussions took place between Campaign Organizer Jonathan Soto and Executive Director and Co-Founder of Start Lighthouse, Rina Madhani.
Through the partnership, Start Lighthouse and Homework Helpers will offer “Woke Activists”, a culturally relevant program that builds mastery literacy skills through a social justice lens to students in the East and South Bronx. This program was designed by Start Lighthouse’s team in order to cultivate a safe space for students to have conversations regarding identity, race, and social justice in a developmentally appropriate and relevant way.
Each student enrolled will receive a customized literacy kit from Start Lighthouse. Start Lighthouse’s literacy kit consists of two brand-new culturally responsive texts, bilingual comprehension guides, and reflective activities that tailor to the books included. The literacy kits allow students to experience a world in which they can see characters and themes that reflect their identities and experiences. Woke Activists will have a positive impact on academic achievement, improve attitudes towards reading and learning, and bring critical consciousness to a community of learners.
Start Lighthouse was founded in response to the educational inequities magnified by COVID-19, during a time of widespread school and library closures. The literacy nonprofit is committed to redistributing book wealth and supporting children in the Bronx grow their own home libraries. Similarly, AOC’s Homework Helpers Project launched in response to the difficulties of remote learning, particularly in working class families. The Homework Helpers Project has built out its own volunteer hub to support students through 1:1 and small group instruction in various subject matter.
"We're excited to partner with Start Lighthouse to connect Bronx youth to educational programming, especially as the pandemic continues to expose the deep educational inequities impacting our Black and Brown families throughout the Bronx", said Jonathan Soto, organizer for the Team AOC's Homework Helpers project.
"We look forward to addressing the Bronx's book deserts through the distribution of literacy toolkits. In order to honor the lived experiences of our students, we will aim to cultivate spaces where candid conversations about identity, race and racism will empower students to see their best selves reflected in our society," he added.
In her reaction to the announcement of partnership, Rina Madhani, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Start Lighthouse said the the collaboration will swiftly help in extending support for vulnerable students in the Bronx county.
“Start Lighthouse is honored to be working alongside Team AOC’s Homework Helpers Project. With their support, we'll be able to collectively serve and reach the most vulnerable students within the Bronx. It is imperative that we create access to the tools and resources that students and working families greatly need. Now more than ever, it is critical for us to come together,” said Madhani.
Start Lighthouse is a literacy nonprofit organization committed to fostering lifelong literacy through a two-generational approach. We create access through customized literacy kits, programming with a racial justice lens, and community workshops for family members and caregivers in the Bronx. Since launching in March 2020, Start Lighthouse has collected 3,454 brand new books, distributed 276 customized literacy kits, and impacted 385 families.