Huffington Post Education

FUELING THE FIRE: LESSONS SPARKED BY A LOVE OF LEARNING
by Verelyn Gibbs Watson / April 5, 2016

“I was in my college dorm when I got the call that one of my friends got shot. That would make like the fifth or sixth friend that died that year. Not the total I lost ever, just that year. Bullet. Prison. Bullet. Bullet. Prison. That’s just how it went. Except for me.”

Those are the words of Leroy Butler; he says he is the exception because as a boy he was part of a nonprofit program called Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters program.

Leroy’s father was convicted of murder shortly after he was born and that was just the beginning of the many obstacles he describes being up against in life.

“I will never forget there was a HIPPY literacy program right in the housing project I lived in when I was growing up,” Butler says. “The HIPPY program provided me with an opportunity to get a head start on my education.”

As he addressed attendees at the HIPPY USA National Leadership Conference this week, he remarked “You guys may think you’re just promoting literacy, but you’re saving lives. I know you saved mine.”

Nearly 400 program leaders at the conference also heard from Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder, Families and Work Institute. She is the author of several books for parents and early childhood educators including “Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs,” “Ask the Children,” and “The Six Stages of Parenthood.”

They also heard from Ralph Smith, managing director, The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. The Campaign, which HIPPY is part of, is a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, business leaders, government agencies, states and communities across the nation to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for college, a career and active citizenship.

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