At Timberland, they like to say, “Work is in our DNA.” This means they are committed to doing the work necessary to build a more inclusive company and be a force for social and environmental good. To celebrate Black History Month this year, Literacy Inc. (LINC) partnered with Timberland for a day of service devoted to addressing racial and educational justice through early literacy.
On Tuesday February 8th, we gathered on Zoom with 30 employees hailing from across the country and across all lines of Timberland business. We had executives dial in from the headquarters in Stratham, NH, along with managers dialing in from the stock room of their stores. And, true to their mantra, this group came ready to work!
This year's project was designed to build upon the success we had partnering with them last year. In February of 2021, a group of Timberland employees created an extensive, curated, and organized list of children’s book titles that were either written by Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) authors and/or featured a BIPOC protagonist. This list has served as a useful resource for LINC over the last year. In an effort to build upon that task, this year’s project asked Timberland employees to select books from this list and execute Read Alouds to be added to our YouTube library.
Prior to launching into their private breakout rooms to record themselves reading, LINC provided a refresher on the importance of our work and the connection between education inequality and racial justice. LINC’s Chief Program Officer Laura Walsh led the group through an exercise to demonstrate the phonological awareness continuum and help participants understand the skills a child needs to be ready to learn to read. It’s harder than you might think!
She also shared insight on how to be a Reading Role Model and how to use the Think Aloud technique when reading without a live audience. This was particularly relevant for this group and we’re excited to see how they put these skills to use in their readings.
Our volunteers were eager to get reading and approached their task with gusto, recording thirty new stories to share with LINC families. Before parting ways we gathered once more to reflect on the activity and share feedback. Many people really connected to the stories they read - in fact, Timberland employee Ann Caron decided to purchase Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw for her grandchildren because she was so touched by this beautiful story of two young boys growing up in different parts of the world discovering what they have in common.
Timberland believes that one path to overcoming systemic racism and injustice is through serving communities. To align with Black History Month, they dedicate the month of February to a variety of service projects with numerous nonprofit partners. LINC is thrilled to continue to work with Timberland and we were honored to be the partner chosen to kick off their month of service this year! In addition to contributing video Read Alouds, Timberland will also be donating two copies of every book read to Literacy, Inc. for us to share with our communities.
A big thank you to Jason Blades, Community Engagement Manager at Timberland whose hard work and vision made this all come to fruition.
For information about corporate volunteer opportunities at LINC, please contact Nanci Pavlisko, Manager of Corporate Philanthropy & Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 212-620-5462, ext 150.