The Currys are making reading more accessible for the kids in Oakland!
Ayesha & Stephen Curry are supporting literacy in Oakland through a new refurbished library, News One reports.
The NBA star and his wife, Ayesha, are no stranger to good deeds; their Eat.Learn.Play. Foundation supports a number of causes in Oakland and surrounding areas. In 2019, they launched a $30,000 STEM scholarship for any college-bound girl from the Bay Area who wanted to pursue a career in science, technology, engineering or math. The following year, they partnered with a local food bank in Oakland when the school district shut down during the height of the pandemic. “We just found out that the Oakland Unified School District is closing its doors for the foreseeable future. We want to intercede on behalf of the kids who rely on their daily services and try to help any way we can,” Stephen explained. “The statistics are really staggering. 18,000 kids rely on at least two meals a day from the school system. We want to make sure that we rally around everyone and make sure these kids are not wondering where their next meal is coming from. Some parents are still having to go to work and worry about the kids’ logistics … we’re just making sure there’s one less thing to worry about,” Ayesha added.
The Currys didn’t stop there. In 2021, they unveiled a new bus mobile, which included a food truck, library, flat screen TVs, a sound system and a basketball hoop. The mission of the bus mobile was to help tackle hunger and combat low literacy rates among students in the Oakland area. At the time, statistics showed that Black children in the city were four times more likely to read below their grade level in comparison to white students.
“That, to me, is unacceptable. It’s not the teachers’ fault. It’s not the parents’ fault. It’s a community issue. Let’s get together, give this model a try and see if we can create some excitement around reading. If we can all join together and try to fix the issue together and turn these numbers around then I think we’re doing something right,” Ayesha told reporters at the time.
Initially, the bus was an extension of their commitment to fighting hunger and food insecurity in the Oakland area; however, literacy among youth was so dire that the Currys decided to expound upon that work, launching the first of 150 “Little Town Libraries” in an effort to bring 30,000+ free books to children across the Bay Area. The first library was placed at Franklin Elementary where the couple had previously renovated a basketball court, adding in some artwork and a garden.
According to CBS News, the Currys partnered with Little Free Library to make a network of about 150,000 tiny libraries in public areas, businesses and front yards across the globe. The organization hopes to facilitate the sharing of books among people. The Currys soon announced other partners to help manage the Little Town Libraries endeavor, which includes The Oakland Literacy Coalition, Oakland Public Library and Black Cultural Zone. Each partner will be responsible for overseeing 50 of the mini libraries, all funded through two-year grants. The couple plans to expand in a number of Oakland communities like Fruitvale, West and East Oakland, and Chinatown. The goal is to make reading more accessible and add a fun element to literacy.
“These boxes can hopefully [create] access to literacy resources and service these kids in a fun way and accessible way… that means 30,000 books at the hands of kids that need the inspiration, the tools to develop at the right ages and hopefully bring an amazing experience to reading which is what it’s all about,” said Stephen.
“We want to encourage kids to read by making it accessible, fun and inspirational. We hope that these free, book-sharing libraries will help plant the seeds needed to continue growing a culture of literacy for the next generation of Oakland,” the couple added via a joint statement.
Today, the Currys are continuing their commitment to supporting youth literacy in the Bay Area by partnering with the e-commerce platform, Rakuten, to refurbish Garfield Elementary School’s library. The school is one of Oakland’s largest and oldest elementaries and has been operating without a library for at least a decade. The reimagined library space created by the celebrity couple will include a host of books from an array of diverse authors. Garfield Elementary principal, Edgar Rodriguez-Ramirez, says he’s extremely grateful for the Currys support in helping bolster his students’ love of reading.
“We have been working toward a new library for more than 10 years and are beyond grateful for the generous support and donation from Rakuten, Stephen Curry, and Eat. Learn. Play. We are thrilled that it will take this project over the finish line for our students. This new library will provide our students access to culturally diverse books that tell untold stories of our community and will be a safe space for our kids to continue to foster their love of reading and explore their creativity,” Rodriguez-Ramirez shared via statement.
Stephen has played with the Golden State Warriors since the beginning of his professional career and his commitment to community runs deep in his blood. He is the eldest son of former NBA star Dell Curry, who also ran a youth focused nonprofit during his time on the court. With that example for him as a child, it makes sense that this all just comes second nature for the four-time NBA champion. He’s made sure to empower the community that embraced him so long ago, relentless in his devotion to giving back to the city of Oakland.
The eight-time NBA All-Star has been working with Rakuten since 2019. The company announced a multi-year partnership with Stephen, naming him a brand ambassador for their global e-commerce business and membership program. This is not the first time the two have partnered on an initiative; Rakuten previously served as the title sponsor of Stephen’s “Underrated Tour” basketball camp that was specifically created for underrated and unsigned high school athletes. Rakuten is also an official partner of the National Basketball League and the official jersey-badge sponsor for the Golden State Warriors.
“The global team at Rakuten is immensely excited to launch our partnership with Stephen Curry, one of the greatest players in the NBA today and one who has relentlessly pushed boundaries and turned established expectations on their head with his achievements…This new partnership between Curry and Rakuten is rooted in shared values and experiences. With remarkable track records of disruptive innovation, we continue to set the bar to even greater heights because we are passionate about empowering society and we believe in the future,” said Rakuten, Inc. founder and CEO Mickey Mikitani.
Rakuten’s Chief Marketing Officer, Dana Marineau, spoke about this latest initiative in partnership with Curry, saying its goal is to “support Garfield Elementary’s incredible commitment to making reading fun and accessible for its students.”
Eat. Learn. Play. recently hosted their third annual Workday Charity Classic to raise money for the foundation’s initiatives. Workday is a cloud software for finance and was the title host alongside Michigan-based solutions company, Lineage Logistics, premium baby product designers, Nuna USA, and top-rated golf equipment company, Callaway Golf. Together the companies supported the Currys, announcing a raised goal of 300,000 books distributed to under-resourced communities through their Little Town Libraries and an additional $1 million commitment to teacher-led literacy projects within the Oakland School District.
“It was an amazing turnout for the third annual Workday Charity Classic benefiting [Eat. Learn. Play.] with 100% of the event proceeds going towards increasing literacy rates for Oakland kids. The day included golf, delicious food, great music, and spirited fundraising…We are grateful to everyone who made the day a success,” the foundation shared via Instagram.
Stephen also took to Twitter to share photos from the event alongside his wife Ayesha and their partners:
Another amazing day at the 3rd Annual @workday Charity Classic w/ @ayeshacurry… all benefiting @eatlearnplay ⛳️ Special people, unbelievable vibes… for an amazing cause. Thanks to everyone who made this possible!! Until next year pic.twitter.com/6OJiglG1fIadvertisement
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) August 30, 2022
In the photos, Stephen can be seen holding his very first children’s book, “I Have a Superpower.” The book focuses on inspiring kids to find their own powers and harness their energy in service of their greatest and wildest dreams. The book was released on September 6 under The Currys Unanimous Media umbrella via publisher Penguin Random House.
“We all have amazing abilities and it’s up to us to unlock them. ‘I Have a Superpower’ shows kids that anything is possible if they work hard, stay focused, and dream big,” Stephen says in a promo video. Here’s his tweet about it:
Dream BIG!! My first children’s book “I Have a Superpower” is almost here… I hope you’ll join us in helping kids everywhere realize they all have superpowers within them! Pre-order today https://t.co/BD3tuT7jvG pic.twitter.com/lo6ga6D3Z5
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) September 1, 2022advertisement
Congratulations Ayesha & Steph! Thank you for your innumerous contributions.
Ayesha & Stephen Curry support Oakland youth literacy through a newly refurbished library. Photo Courtesy of EatLearnPlay/Instagram