The Birmingham Museum of Art strives to be an active civic partner in our community. We find productive and meaningful ways to respond to and address issues that affect our city, such as declining arts education in our schools. We serve on committees and partner with other organizations to further our reach and strengthen the impact we make with students and the community. Over the past two years, we have expanded upon a longstanding relationship with Better Basics—a literacy intervention and enrichment organization—to provide after-school art instruction at their HOPE 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Located at CJ Donald, Glen Oaks, and Robinson Elementary Schools, these centers provide an environment in which children explore their interests, express themselves artistically, receive extra academic support, and enjoy a healthy dinner.
When Better Basics needed volunteers for their annual Birmingham Reads program, many BMA staff members were quick to answer the call. Birmingham Reads is the largest literacy event in Birmingham and allows members of our community to connect with the students of Birmingham City Schools. Each year, Better Basics recruits and places over 600 volunteer readers in every pre-kindergarten through fifth grade class in the Birmingham City School System. Our BMA staff members were assigned to read Pete the Cat’s Train Trip and Alexander & the Wind Up Mouse to first and second graders at Minor Elementary. After engaging the students with some reading comprehension questions, volunteers were able to present each student with the book to take home and add to their own library. In total, Better Basics’ volunteers read to 12,230 students and gave away just as many books.
We are grateful to have Better Basics as a community partner and encourage anyone interested in volunteering to visit their website and complete a volunteer form.