My name is Colin Bloom. I live in New York City and I am a dual USA/ South African citizen (my dad is South African and my mom is American). Although I live in the USA, I visit South Africa often and in the spring semester of 11th grade I attended the School for Ethics and Global Leadership at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Some take literacy for granted. Others, think it’s a privilege. I believe that literacy is a human right. In 2018, I founded Libraries for Literacy to create libraries for under-resourced South African schools.
In addition to creating Libraries for Literacy, I volunteer as a literacy tutor with Reading Partners in Harlem and I've taught free after school STEAM classes to underprivileged kids at the Washington Heights Y since 2017.
In 2018, I was 12 years old and walking down a grocery store aisle in South Africa when I noticed that all the packaged food had pictures of what was inside. I was used to packages that just had the name of the food, such as “Campbell’s Tomato Soup.”
When I asked my dad why all the food had pictures, he explained that a lot of people in South Africa could not read.
When I researched South African literacy, I discovered that 78% of South African 10-year-olds cannot read for meaning and only 8% of public schools have a library. I believe that literacy is a fundamental human right. My commitment to provide greater access to books and improve literacy in South Africa led me to found Libraries for Literacy. In 2020, I created my first library in Doornkop Soweto.
Please see a short 4-min video about this project here.