Jake Jacobson, Colby Jones, Sloane Simmons and Casey Simmons mingle at the Philanthropy Awards Luncheon.

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Coming to a Classroom Near You: Seventh Annual Reading Inspirational Stories to Empower

January 10, 2019
Volunteers are invited to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and his lasting legacy by
reading stories that inspire and empower local students at five Rosedale neighborhood
schools to continue the Civil Rights Movement in their generation.

Kansas City, KS. Volunteers ranging from college students to elders of the Rosedale community
will join Rosedale Development Association January 22 - 25, the week of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Day, for their annual Reading Inspirational Stories to Empower, or RISE, program.

For the seventh year, community volunteers will visit over 50 Rosedale classrooms to read
stories about civil rights and social justice. Through the program, volunteers engage local
children about our country’s struggle toward equality, one which still carries on today. This
year’s books will focus on child leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.

In 2018, 45 volunteers read to 61 classrooms in five Rosedale elementary and middle schools
for an estimated total of 720 students. Last year, Ms. Dottie Griffin, a Rosedale elder who has
participated in the program from its inception in 2013, paused mid-story while reading to a 4th
grade Noble Prentis classroom in 2018, saying, " Now, if you see me put my hand on my chest
or hear my voice get a little wavy, it's because I was alive when this happened to Dr. King, and I
still remember clearly what we went through back then ." She went on to explain why it was
important today’s students understand what she and her peers endured, using her experiences
to encourage youth to speak up when they see bad things happen in their school or community.
Being able to connect local elders with the youth of today is an integral part of the RISE
program. “ By connecting the Civil Rights Movement to our lives today, we hope to inspire
Rosedale children to continue King’s legacy and show them that they, too, can help make their
community a better place ,” Erin Stryka, Rosedale Development Association (RDA) Executive
Director, said of the program.

RISE Volunteers will attend an orientation on Tuesday, January 15 at 6PM, located in the
Rainbow Mennonite Church fellowship hall at 1444 Southwest Boulevard in Kansas City, KS. A
complimentary dinner, sponsored in part by Kansas Volunteer Commission, will also be provided for participants. The training will orient volunteers toward the importance of reading
and communication and emphasize how to help students identify and draw lessons from a
story’s theme. In addition, activities will help volunteers reflect on inequality in and around their
own lives and possibly inspire them to take action.

Rosedale Development Association (RDA) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to work
with residents, businesses, and institutions to develop a thriving Rosedale community. RDA
approaches programs and services from a whole-community perspective, seeing neighbors as
experts on their assets as well as needs, making them the most effective change-agents in their

For more information about the program or to get involved, contact RDA Program Director, Je
T’aime Taylor at 913-677-5097 or jetaime@rosedale.org .