ABOVE: Reading With a Rapper team poses with elected officials and members of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA) at City Hall press conference announcing their literacy partnership
Houston-based literacy program, Reading With A Rapper™ (RWAR), recently announced their #TurnTexasYellow campaign in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs (MOCA), HTV, HISDTV and HCCTV at a press conference on Monday, February 6th at Houston City Hall.
“This partnership with Reading with a Rapper will enhance our ability to continue making a difference in literacy through the arts,” says Mayor Sylvester Turner. “This work is significant because low literacy affects the entire family and every area of the economy. We can make systemic changes and need organizations like this creatively impacting our youth while lifting up local musicians.” MOCA, HTV and its affiliates will help amplify the efforts of RWAR through promotional and programming support via its broadcast channels. A major contributor to the future of education since its inception in 2018, RWAR recently launched a series of PSAs through its social media channels on MLK DAY 2023. HTV, HISDTV, HCCTV will air those PSAs starting February 2023. The partnership will last until January 2024.
MOCA has consistently advocated for artists and creatives and last year increased its focus within music, a rich, cultural asset for Houston. Because musical art holds such significance to Houston’s identity, MOCA created a Houston Music Directory and Houston Music Advisory Board to support these advocacy efforts. Partnering with RWAR aligns with the city’s literacy work and the music community’s priority of support for local musicians.
Presented by non-profit organization Legends Do Live (501c3), the mission of the #TurnTexasYellow campaign is to bring awareness to Texas’ low literacy rates and install the RWAR pilot program throughout the state within the next 3-5 years. The #TurnTexasYellow PSAs airing on HTV and its affiliate channels and shared on MOCA social media channels further demonstrate the state’s low literacy rates and offer ways to combat them. Yellow is the program’s designated color for literacy and when a new school district, city or town adopts the RWAR curriculum, they are spreading the organization’s color creed across the state. The future of education is now. The RWAR program offers compensation to both teachers and artists. For students, it also provides innovative resources, mental health support, plus relatable, engaging content and programming. Seven schools within the Houston area have adopted the RWAR program, and they are slated to roll the program out this Spring in the following Houston and Alief Independent School Districts:
- Kelso Elementary School
- McGowen Elementary School
- Piney Point Elementary
- Cullen Middle School
- Fleming Middle School
- Madison High School
- Worthing High School
- Holub Middle School
All HISD schools, except for Piney Point Elementary, are in Complete Communities. Complete Communities is Mayor Sylvester Turner’s signature initiative focusing on bridging the gap between equity and opportunity. Made up of ten historically under-resourced neighborhoods which together are home to one in six Houstonians, Complete Communities exists to ensure all residents can achieve success without barriers to opportunity.
Monday’s press conference was well-attended by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs, along with Houston Independent School District Superintendent Millard House, Alief Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Anthony Mays and Council Member Tiffany D. Thomas (District F). RWAR Co-Founder Jarren Small expressed his gratitude for the partnership and also informed attendees of the great work that RWAR is doing to support localized talent by partnering with artists like their first signee, BuddieRoe.
Small shared, “When we came to MOCA, it was important that we were intentional. So working with independent artists in Houston and giving them an infrastructure to be who they want to be without sacrificing what they want to say and how they want to say it, while still achieving commercial success, is something that we’re really excited about doing. With that said, BuddieRoe, standing to the left of me, will be the first artist who is studied schoolwide and his album is going to be an actual curriculum. The album is called Lost & Found and will be released March 31st. So, he will be the first and not the last artist to kick this off with us.”
Reading With a Rapper’s recent partnership with MOCA in support of its #TurnTexasYellow campaign is not only the future of education as we know it, but it is also showing itself to be the future of the music industry. Directly connecting the artist with the school by way of socially conscious lyrics utilized for curriculums is both disruptive and innovative. With quantified data to prove that this new style of learning is improving students’ comprehension skills and behavior, it is safe to say that RWAR is just getting started and will find itself expanding into many more school districts across the globe!
About Reading With A Rapper
RWAR was created in 2018 to relate English Language Arts (ELA) metrics and academics with socially conscious lyrics from known national recording artists, video content and technology. Through this platform, RWAR relates and uplifts youth socially and academically to skills necessary to thrive in Secondary and Collegiate Level courses. Since RWAR’s inception, RWAR has toured the City of Houston with a series of demonstrations and events, touching over 30,000 students and educators of all ages and backgrounds. Learn more at www.readingwitharapper.com, and follow on Facebook and Instagram @ReadingwaRapper.
About the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs
The City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs guides the City’s cultural investments with policies and initiatives that expand access to arts and cultural programs in the community, attract visitors and leverage private investment. Learn more at www.houstontx.gov/culturalaffairs. And follow on Facebook and Instagram @HoustonMOCA.