“When teachers and students work authentically together to promote early literacy in communities that are underserved and under-resourced, they can help equalize education for all children.”
Chris McGilvery is an educator, connector, and kindness crusader. He served as grant advisor at The Pollination Project and he is a grantee himself.
In 2015 Chris received a grant for his Give More Hugs project, which later evolved into The Leaders Readers Network, a nonprofit dedicated to equalizing access to quality education by empowering teachers and students to serve their community. Every year, they provide books, school supplies, leadership development, and encouragement and support to students in need.
“I vividly remember receiving my first grant of $1,000 with TPP in December 2013. I finally realized someone believed in my work. It gave me the motivation, inspiration, and love to keep going…I don’t think I would be able to be where I am today without the love of so many at TPP and the financial support. The grant allowed us to engage more community partners and sponsors, donors and volunteers for our cause.”
Since they started in 2012, Chris and his team of 258 student ambassadors and 76 teacher ambassadors have activated over 419,000 youth volunteer hours, partnered with 1,960 teachers, and impacted over 175,000 students’ lives in underserved communities across Texas, the Tri-state area, and Dominica.
A unique mentor model
Chris’s project operates on a mentor model where team members and community advocates walk alongside educators and students to ensure equitable education and literacy for all students. Through their signature projects, the Student Ambassador Project and the Literacy Fellowship, students and educators from all backgrounds help create impactful change to help build leaders and confident readers.
They don’t just collect and distribute tons (literally!) of books each year. What makes this model unique is their “Ambassador” model. TLRN supports teachers and students who lead efforts at underfunded schools across the country. Students learn how to use their voice and develop their leadership while they support a cause they are passionate about, connect with their peers, engage volunteers, create awareness of their events, and engage a span of generations to get involved with their work to help transform student opportunities in and out of school. Students across the nation work together to help adopt classrooms with brand new books to benefit underprivileged children locally and globally.
Every book they give is special because it is signed by a student or volunteer to inspire and bring hope to students in need. Not only does TLRN mentors students, they partner with educators to activate their classrooms through service projects, book distributions and activities that help students learn how to give back while developing literacy skills and their lifelong love for reading. This network is a community connected through books.
A work of kindness
“Kindness is a huge part of our work, and we bring kindness to every school and students we support!”
Chris believes in the power of kindness as an act that can deepen relationships and deepen people’s abilities to connect with one another. Kindness is an opportunity to show up for one another and Chris has a track record of doing exactly that.
“Every community can embrace kindness every day. It is truly up to each individual in a community to help share, give, and support kindness in ways that make a community truly nice and kind. We often have to be ready to be there for each other and support one another with an open heart.”
By fostering a love of service, helping young people see the power they have to make a difference, and by believing in them wholeheartedly and unreservedly, their impact will ripple out for years to come.
To know more about Chris McGilvery and Leaders Readers Network, please visit https://theleadersreadersnetwork.org