007: Social Justice

August 27, 2018

Since 2013, the Duke Endowment has funded summer literacy programs in North Carolina designed to engage United Methodist rural churches and improve literacy among elementary school students in their communities. These summer literacy programs are providing more than just building confidence for the children. These host churches are providing nurturing relationships, nutritious meals, daily enrichment activities, and more importantly, a safe space for families to engage and chart a path for the future.

I met Reverend Mary Jane Wilson-Parsons in June 2018. She is the co-pastor at Seaside United Methodist Church in Sunset Beach, North Carolina. She recognized a need in her community, beyond the resort golf courses and high net worth retirees, that there are large pockets of poverty where underprivileged elementary children needed help. They needed help with basic literacy skills, especially during the summer months. This is called the “summer slide.”

I found a unique intersection in this story. One that we at Gray Digital Group were telling for the Duke Endowment, to recruit more United Methodist Churches in North Carolina to host summer literacy programs. The Church was a safe space to teach literacy, not the schools. A safe space for children, parents, teachers, and community partners to come together under one roof. One church roof. Their mission is to provide social justice for these children in the form of literacy skills so they could overcome the summer slide and perform just as well as other students in their classrooms.


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