Cool Scholars in New Orleans

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certificatesOn Wednesday, August 17, Cool Scholars Extended Literacy Program concluded with a dinner for children and their families. In attendance were 30 children and families as Alexander McConduit read his children’s books Snowballs for All and Thorn in my Horn. Prior to reading Snowballs for All, participants were served and enjoyed snowballs while  Alexander read. Community members from Juvenile Reentry Assistance Program (JRAP) and The Family Leadership Training Institute (FLTI) gave brief introductions about themselves and organizations’ mission. Adult participants were also offered the opportunity to register to vote online while youth participants were engaged in the program.

Cool Scholars began on July 13 and required a parent or guardian to attend with their youth as a means of engaging the whole family in shared reading, crafts, and other activities. During enrollment for the six-week cool-schools-extended-literacy-copyprogram, 18 elementary and middle school, aged youth and 10 adult family members applied to the program. Of 28 total participants that enrolled, 26 attended at least once with the majority of the participants only being absent from one of the evening sessions. One of our families had perfect attendance which further illustrates families’ willingness to participate every Wednesday evening for six weeks. After each session, families were provided with a book to build their home libraries and to encourage them to continue to read together after the program’s conclusion. Participants also received healthy snacks to supplement delayed family dinners and to introduce them to healthier options.

books-copyAt the culminating activity, youth participants were awarded for their dedication and commitment with two books of their choice provided through First Books and a Raising Cane’s gift certificate for a free kid’s meal while their parents were awarded Whole Foods gift cards to encourage healthy eating. The Raising Cane’s gift certificates along with beverages for three of the six weeks of programming were donated to us by our local Raising Cane’s Restaurant.

During the program, many of our youth participants had a sibling who they collaborated with and assisted. Our smallest family was a family of two while our largest was a family of six. We are hopeful that families who participated in Cool Scholars Extended Literacy continue their participation in Prime Time Family Reading Time Program and after school programming in the fall to continue building upon families’ educational assets.


Written by Shantell Lee, Youth and School Engagement Coordinator