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Phyllis Wheatley campaign seeks the community’s help to increase literacy

January 6, 2022

Phyllis Wheatley. Image: Wiki Commons.

Maria Scruggs realizes that addressing the many issues under the racial equity umbrella can be a daunting task, which is why the Phyllis Wheatley Rise to Read Campaign starts at the foundation – children who struggle to read.

Scruggs, the former president of the NAACP’s St. Petersburg chapter, founded the program in partnership with the organization in 2018 as a means to close the literacy gap between Black and white children. Scruggs said reports show that between 2015 and 2021, just 23 to 27% of Black students were reading at grade level.

Scruggs said economic opportunity begins at the lowest level of a person’s life, and addressing the educational disparity in children will also help solve several other socioeconomic issues plaguing the city.

“We have two economists that have said if we’re able to ensure African American children can read, we are almost guaranteeing that child will have a greater opportunity to earn a living,” said Scruggs. “That’s how we close the economic equity gap, that’s how we close the ability to have access to affordable housing, that’s how we begin to improve health outcomes.”

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