Randolph County Family Connection Seeks Out Unconventional Spaces to Reach At-Risk Children

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Randolph County Family Connection and Unique Images Barbershop and Salon recently co-hosted an Open House for Barbershop Books, a nonprofit literacy organization that’s distributed over 50,000 books and engaged more than 15,000 children throughout the United States.

In Randolph County, only 26.7% of third graders achieved Developing Learner or above on Milestones ELA assessment compared to Georgia’s average of 62.3%.

Unique Images Barbershop and Salon in Cuthbert is the second site in Georgia to become a Barbershop Books affiliate. Barbershop Books aims to inspire African American boys and other at-risk children to read for fun, distributing “boy-approved” books to a national network of barbershops and providing early literacy training to barbers.

“We have the unique opportunity to help African American boys identify as readers,” said Kuanita Murphy, Ph.D., Randolph County Family Connection executive director. “Our partnership with Unique Images Barbershop is pivotal not only to reaching the male demographic in our community, but as a place to bring the community together.”

In 2019, 68.3% of black children were living in poverty compared to 25.6% of white, not Hispanic, or Latino, according to the latest Georgia KIDS COUNT data. Adult educational attainment—defined as high school graduate or higher—was 67.5% for black or African American compared to 84.3% for white, not Hispanic, or Latino.

South Georgia Starz Academy of Albany recently sponsored an event promoting Barbershop Books at Unique Images Barbershop. Eleven boys ages 5 – 13 received a free haircut and books. The next day, 125 children and their families attended an open house and received food, treats, and books donated by Randolph County Head Start.

Christopher Drake, a field representative for Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. attended the event. Randolph County’s Barbershop Books initiative was made possible by Bishop’s Literacy Matters Cohort funding.

“This partnership has encouraged our Collaborative to continue to explore unconventional spaces to reach the people who need our help,” said Murphy. “We’re excited about expanding the opportunity in 2024.”

Kuanita Murphy
Randolph County Family Connection Executive Director

Krystin Dean
GaFCP Communications Specialist
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