Young Leaders Society Addresses Childhood Literacy

Submitted on behalf of Richard Drieberg, Vice President, Enterprise Valuation Group, Bank of America & YLS Issue Awareness Committee Member. United Way of Metropolitan Chicago Young Leaders Society (YLS) members and guests were treated to an evening of ‘Speed Networking’, as part of the YLS Issues Awareness Committee’s You Are What You Read event, focused on childhood literacy. The event featured panelists Jennifer Leigh, VP of External Relations at the Carole Robertson Center for Learning; Mary Zabelski, SVP of Educational Services at Chicago Lighthouse; Karina Kelly, Executive Director at Jumpstart-Midwest Region; and Katie Cangemi, Director of Community Investment-Education at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, who shared with the group the mission of their respective organizations, as well as touching personal stories regarding students that they have been able to reach and help. The ‘Speed Networking’ segment of the evening allowed the featured panelists to join breakout groups, where they helped lead a discussion within a smaller group to take a more in-depth look into childhood literacy. Within the breakout groups, panelists helped frame the issue and define the problem; discussed the income, language, and physical barriers to achieving full childhood literacy; outlined the specific actions their respective organizations take on a day-to-day basis to combat these barriers; and proposed ways that groups such as YLS and the United Way can take action to get involved with the cause. The evening closed with inspiring stories from each of the panelists, but with the caveat that there is still a long way to go to overcome the challenges of childhood literacy in our community. The message was clear, however, that by raising awareness and taking action, we can face these challenges head on and ensure that all children have the basic literacy skills needed to shine along their education path into the future. Special thanks to Jennifer, Mary, Karina, and Katie for taking the time to lead the discussion, and to PricewaterhouseCoopers and Hannah’s Bretzel for graciously donating in support of our event. Learn more about YLS and upcoming events here.

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