At the center of everything WITS does are our three core values: community, empowerment, and consistency. As I reflect on 2019, the meaning behind these words in the context of our world today has evolved.
- In 2019 we revamped the website to be the hub of all online interactions with WITS. This has now become the key to how we keep each other safe and healthy – by building community on screens through our website, over the phone, and in our homes. Forgoing a needed hug, a shared laugh, and a congratulatory high five.
- At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year we centered our volunteer orientation on our values. We educated our mentors on what it means to empower each student and celebrate who each student is. This value gives us the foundation to fight harder than ever to empower people and communities that have been oppressed by systemic racism for hundreds of years. Hoping that this time it will be different and knowing that we have the power to ensure that it is.
- The message of the 2019 Blackboard Affair, and all our work, is READING MATTERS. Reading is consistent. Once you have it, it is with you always. And now in a world in which consistency seems subjective and ever changing – READING MATTERS.
If you had told me when I took on the CEO role at WITS in January 2019 that in one year we would face a month-long teacher strike, followed by a global pandemic, and race revolution I of course would’ve said – That seems unlikely. And if you had asked me how WITS will handle these challenges, I would have said – with community, empowerment, and consistency. The meaning of these words never changes for WITS.
- As the largest provider of literacy programming to Chicago Public Schools, we are always committed to building community between students, mentors, and teachers through the power of reading.
- We have served hundreds of thousands of students over 30 years, always empowering them to find their voice, learn who they are, and explore the world around them through the power of reading.
- And even when consistency is characterized by being inconsistent, we are always there, adapting programming to serve our school communities at no costs to them or families to build critical literacy schools and positive self-identity through the power of reading.
It will always build community.
It will always empower us.
It will always be consistent.
In these pages we share with you what WITS did in 2019 and thank you for being part of all of it. I hope you enjoy revisiting all the great work we did together.