The Mind Trust’s Go Farther Literacy Fund awarded Center for Leadership Development $2,000 to support their Imani Book Club

We Want to Create Experiences That Spark Imagination

Written by The Mind Trust and readable here: https://www.themindtrust.org/news/we-want-to-create-experiences-that-spark-imagination/. 

When The Mind Trust launched the Go Farther Literacy Fund in spring 2021, the Center for Leadership Development (CLD) saw an opportunity to expand its Imani Book Club by applying for support. Their robust and compelling proposal was selected among 13 other recipients for the inaugural round of funding. Literacy is central to much of what CLD does in their programming to support and empower Black and Brown youth. The goal of everything CLD does for fourth through twelfth-grade students is to prepare them for college, which ultimately requires a high literacy level.

The Imani Book Club has been a staple program at CLD since 2004. Three grade bands—fourth through sixth, seventh through ninth, and tenth through eleventh—read a book across six weeks of programming. Selected books are written by African American authors and chosen based on relevance to students’ interests. In addition, students engage in weekly reading assignments, discussions, brainstorming exercises, and journaling.

With the added funding from the Go Farther Literacy Fund, this year’s Imani Book Club for seventh through ninth graders concluded in a community book signing event with author Maurice Broaddus. Students read Broaddus’ book The Usual Suspects over the summer. The community book signing marked the conclusion of summer programming. It allowed students to get their books signed and hear directly from Broaddus on his background as a native of Indianapolis.

Samirah Bongiovanni, Manager of Programs at CLD, indicated they hope to include more experiential aspects in future years of the Imani Book Club after this year’s resounding success. She noted, “We want to create experiences for our students that spark their imagination about what is possible and expose them to the wider cultural landscape in Indianapolis.”

It’s not just CLD staff who see the value of programs like the Imani Book Club. Students happily spend their Tuesday or Thursday evenings on what might seem like academic activities that students would shy away from in summer. Yet across grade levels, students were enthusiastic and clear in recognizing the importance of this summer program. For example, an eighth-grade student said, “Imani Book Club helped me understand the importance of reading.” Meanwhile, a sixth-grade student mentioned that “It helped me prepare for next school year.” And lastly, a tenth grader said, “I’m more confident in my reading comprehension skills because of Imani Book Club.”

Another aspect that sets Imani Book Club apart is its affordability for families. While not free, its cost is much lower than other summer programs of its size and scope. CLD also regularly grants waivers to families experiencing financial hardship to ensure students who can benefit the most can attend.

Imani Book Club is far from the only high-impact program offered at CLD. Their 17different programmatic offerings cast a wide net to holistically support students, with CLD’s Principals for Success serving as the foundation for everything they do.  Their Principles are:

Character Development
Educational Excellence
Leadership Effectiveness
Community Service
Career Achievement

 Every year, CLD serves thousands of students and families. And in a bid to address transportation issues that stop some families from accessing their programs, CLD has created satellite locations to ensure accessibility. In addition, Bongiovanni emphasized CLD as a community resource. “We want everybody to be the best version of themselves. We want to see our community thrive.”

About the Go Farther Literacy Fund

The Go Farther Literacy Fund is a program from The Mind Trust to fund solutions to help address our city’s literacy crisis and ensure all children read at or above grade level. Awarded funds range from $150 to $5,000. We hope that this initiative will help Center Township families go farther – both physically and figuratively! Learn more and apply at themindtrust.org/gofarther.