In November of 1996, the non-profit organization A Cultural Exchange started a program geared towards African-American preschool-aged children. The program, 100 Men Reading, is made up of African-American males from all walks of life and serves the Cuyahoga County area. These men donate their time and resources to the benefit of the children in their community. The men read for an hour once a month to children in pre-schools, Head Start programs, nursery schools and day-care centers throughout the community. Each month, the volunteers donate multicultural, non-stereotypical, non-gender books to their adopted facility, helping to establish a library for future use.
The purpose of 100 Men Reading is to enrich the educational experiences of children by reinforcing the positive aspects of cultural identity through reading aloud. The communities of these day-care centers and preschools are located in areas of diversity, where poverty is high and male role models are rarely found. The men enter these schools to develop on-site children's libraries to help correct pre-existing myths and stereotypes of African-American men, provide positive role-models and to help the children develop the desire within to read and learn.
The men in the organization feel that it is a privilege to serve those within their community because they are able to inspire and help the children. Through their efforts, the attitudes of the children change. The children in the pre-schools and daycare centers see that others of the same ethnicity have succeeded, and therefore their self-esteem and confidence rises.
100 Men Reading is funded by grants from the programs’ volunteers. As these men work with their adopted centers, they are nurturing their community and impacting lives of children.