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Sistas in Business recognized by SAISD Board

By Laura Thompson | Apr 24 2015

Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity member listens to student  read

Sistas in Business will be recognized by the San Antonio Independent School District Board of Directors, Monday, April 20, 2015 at 5:30 pm at their board meeting, which will take place at 406 Barrera Road.

As a result of working with elementary school children, Sistas in Business has discovered that kids love to read and are thriving in the areas of reading, classroom behavior, conduct, test scores, developing a love for reading and changing their images in the community.

Sistas in Business sees literacy as a priority in San Antonio, so we set out to change the illiteracy rates in with a simple reading café twice a year. The reading café became a popular activity for the kids, so we wanted to do more.

We approached a representative from HEB to request funding and he suggested that we take the kids out into the community to read to senior citizens, so we decided to do it and as a result, the Read & Lead Program was birthed. For the past 7 years, Sistas in Business has taken Cameron Elementary School students to venues throughout San Antonio to read to adults and sometimes to their peers.

Students from pre-k3 to fifth grade participate in the Read and Lead program. Since its inception the students have traveled to nursing homes and read to senior citizens; to the Fischer House to read to wounded soldiers and their families; HEB grocery stores to read to customers; the YMCA to read to their guests; McDonalds to read to their customers; the Witte Museum and San Antonio Museum of Art; the Carver Library and the Carver Community Cultural Center; to the SAReads Book Bank; the Literacy Coalition; to Page Middle School; Bowden Elementary School; Sam Houston High School; the San Antonio Book Festival and many other places.

Read & Lead student reading to HEB partnerAfter a few years of working with Cameron Elementary School students, we felt the need to expand their program and expand our partnerships with other organizations and literacy related entities in the city. We reached out to Literacy San Antonio and they invited us to join the Literacy Coalition, and we did. From there we connected with SAReads and decided we were ready to approach SA2020 to become a partner to join in to help them reach San Antonio’s education and reading goals.

We have also expanded the program into Bowden Elementary School, Davis Middle School and King Academy. Additionally, we have partnered with several civic organizations in the community to help more students in SAISD improve their reading. The organizations that support our efforts are the National Society of Phi Delta Kappa; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity; Jack & Jill of America; and members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. Our volunteers include teacher and staff; parents and college students.

HEB has been a consistent sponsor from the beginning of the program, along with Allstate Insurance and our newest sponsor Comerica Bank. We have donated over 4,000 books to SAISD students because of the generous contributions of our partners at SAReads. Our sponsors make it possible for us to provide the students with tote bags for their books; Read & Lead t-shirts; food and transportation for every field trip.

Reading to a Senior at HEBOne of the goals for reading in San Antonio is to ensure that students are reading by third grade and we are proud to say that the students that we are working with have begun to read well, as early as pre-k3. We discovered that if kids participated in our program starting at pre-k3 and continue through fifth grade that they will be exposed to eight years of focused reading before they enter middle school.

Sistas in Business also showcased participants of the Read and Lead Program in a photo exhibit entitled “Inner City Expressions” at the Carver Community Cultural Center December 2014 through January 2015. We have taken thousands of photos over the years and decided to create a photo exhibit of students reading. Photos were blown up into 16 X 20 and displayed at the Carver Community Cultural Center. The exhibit has since moved to the Carver Library on E. Commerce and will be displayed there until sometime in May. Sistas in Business will host a reception inviting the community to share in the success of our children and showcase them once again on April 30 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm.

When one organization reaches a goal, it affects a multitude of people and organizations. The success of the Read & Lead Program means success for SAISD, the students, parents, and volunteers; the community, SA2020, SAReads, Literacy San Antonio, National Sorority of Phi Delta Kappa, our sponsors and ultimately our city. Sistas in Business are proud of the collective work we do to help improve the success of our children.

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Laura Thompson

Laura Thompson is known as an Empowerment Connector, Social Entrepreneur and Networking Mastermind with a focus on education, media and organization leadership. Helping to stamp out illiteracy is a personal mission, and she has dedicated 13 years working with Cameron Elementary School to help students build a foundation to realize and achieve their greatness through reading. As the founder and president of Sistas in Business, she decided to transfer the reading program over to Sistas in Business, as a vehicle to give small business owners a chance to participate and give back to the community.

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