The African American National Spelling Bee Championships (AANSBC), affectionately known as (“The Bee”), was formed as a non-profit organization back in 2010 by Robert Garner, Jr., a Houston businessman who had trouble with spelling and reading as a youngster.
Because of his challenges with reading and spelling, Garner started doing research on the educational system in America and wanted to do something to help struggling children with expanding their literary skills and knowledge; improving their language development; and increasing their reading and writing levels.
Once he realized how vast the challenge and literary gap was in the African American community, Garner became focused on developing a platform to address the issue.
Garner noticed that there was a national event called the Scripps National Spelling Bee, where young kids from around the country were given the opportunity to compete against one another in a national spelling challenge; he also noticed that in many years, African Americans were not represented among the top finalists. Many of the past winners of the completion, along with most of the top spellers in the country, prepare tirelessly for the competition. They hire coaches, employ tutors and have all-access to the latest technology and digital media tools to help them prepare for the Scripps National Spelling Bee and other spelling competitions across the country.
Garner quickly realized that financial constraints were the primary reason why there was an extremely low-level of participation by African American kids, so he decided to create the “The Bee” to provide a quality opportunity for many young African American students to compete on a national level in spelling competitions.
On the last Saturday of Black History Month, Feb. 27, 2016, the AANSBC will be hosting their annual spelling bee competition, where talented young African American spellers will compete for scholarships and other prizes. This year, the historic Heinen Theater at Houston Community College, Central Campus, is the site sponsor for the “The Bee” and 6th-8th grade students from Harris, Fort Bend, Brazoria and Galveston counties will be participating.
“This is very important to me because I grew up not knowing how to read or spell,” said Garner. “If I would have understood how important reading and spelling was at a young age, I would have been further along in my life. The power of words can move mountains, which is why ‘The Bee’ is so important to our community.”
Outside of the national spelling bee event, the AACNSBC has done more than hold an event; they have done countless things to empower African American students and parents.
Since inception, the mission of the AANSBC has been to train students in grades 6-8 on spelling techniques that will help increase their vocabulary and improve their reading scores.
The AANSBC accomplishes their mission by:
Providing workshops for educators, volunteers and parents to show them how to teach good reading and spelling skills to their students
Working year-round with students by offering opportunities to practice outside their classrooms (Saturday workshops, spelling bee pep rallies)
Hosting an annual spelling bee competition where winning students will earn scholarships toward their higher education goals
Establishing solid community and corporate partnerships
Garner wants to demonstrate to African American students that whatever career path they choose, reading and spelling are important. He plans to grow the AANSBC to cities all across the country, and has already worked with teachers, students and communities in Houston, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
Sponsors for “The Bee” in 2016 include: Starbucks, Houston Community College, Comerica Bank, Forward Times Publishing Co., The Hadi Law Firm, World Youth Foundation, Power Finance Texas, Ameriprise Financial, Striders, National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, Put it in A Book Foundation, 100 Black Men Metropolitan Houston, Big Star Ford, NAACP Houston Chapter, and Houston Area Urban League among others.
AANSBC provides training for organizations and churches interested in sponsoring students for their annual spelling bee. Organizations, such as churches, fraternities, sororities, and professional and community organizations must be committed to working with students on a regular basis throughout the school year.
For more information, please visit the AANSBC website at www.bee-aboutit.org or email them at email@example.com.