CINCINNATI -- The way Nicole Chambers-Cunningham sees it, improving literacy is a critical step when it comes to helping lift children out of poverty.
That’s why her nonprofit organization, Rising Stars of America, is holding a fundraiser for new books and additional school supplies for John P. Parker School second-graders in Madisonville.
“If a child can’t read, write and comprehend -- you might as well just stop it right now,” Chambers-Cunningham said. “The more we can do for these kids when they’re young, the more we can look at our babies and say: ‘Just dream.’”
The Read to Lead event will be the organization’s second annual fundraiser for literacy and will feature a keynote speech by Cincinnati Public Schools Superintendent Laura Mitchell.
Chambers-Cunningham said she was excited to have Mitchell involved in the event, especially as busy as the new superintendent is.
In a written statement to WCPO, Mitchell explained why she decided to devote her time to the fundraiser.
“Literacy is the foundation for a bright future for our students,” she wrote. “I am honored to represent Cincinnati Public Schools at the Rising Stars of America Read to Lead fundraiser, which will help strengthen our communities with the support, services and opportunities needed to help children master literacy early in their education and be prepared to do great things.”
In addition to having Mitchell in attendance, Rising Stars will honor Dr. O’dell Owens and Judge Fanon Rucker for their contributions to the community.
By bringing such big community names to the event, Chambers-Cunningham said she hopes to inspire young people and families in the neighborhood.
“We want our children to dare to dream, but that starts very early,” she said.
Part of being able to dream is having books that can take children to different parts of the world through stories and pictures, Chambers-Cunningham added.
She’s hoping the event can raise as much as $10,000, some of which would be used to buy new books and replenish school supplies for second-graders at John P. Parker School. If Rising Stars makes enough money, the organization will help first- and third-graders at the school, too.
“Ten thousand dollars is not going to save the world,” she said. “But it’s a start.”
The Oct. 28 event at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center’s Lindner Annex Event Center will start with a networking session from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. featuring a live performance by 2nd Wind | The Ultimate Jazz & R&B Experience. Presentations will begin after that. The event will conclude at 4 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased online until noon the day of the event for $25. The tickets will cost $30 at the door.
Organizers also will raise money through a VIP raffle, a split-the-pot and through direct donations.
“With Cincinnati Public Schools, we want to make sure that all of our children are well educated and that we hopefully can get them off to college or some type of post-secondary program or trade so they can make an impact in our community and be able to compete globally,” Chambers-Cunningham said.
“We realize as a community that we need each other,” she added. “The more hands you have on deck with this, the better off you are.”
Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on issues we need to address. Childhood poverty is an important focus for her and for WCPO. To read more stories about childhood poverty, go to www.wcpo.com/poverty.
To read more stories by Lucy, go to www.wcpo.com/may. To reach her, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.