In February, 7-year-old Havana Chapman-Edwards, one of the most inspiring girls we know, launched a crowdfunding campaign so she could buy books for kids in a book club she started; kids who she says, “look like me”. She met her original goal of $6,000 and is not stopping there. Havana just joined forces with 14-year-old Taylor Richardson, another inspiring change-maker we are honored to know. Together, this dynamic duo is raising $15,000 to fund a girl-powered, book-fueled mission that will take them to Ghana this July… and we can all help them get there.
Havana started her Rhymers Are Readers book club last year for members of her church choir. She says her original goal was to help “all 12 of my choir friends feel confident in their reading ability and to see kids who look like them in the books they read.” At each monthly club meeting, Havana reads a book aloud about “an amazing female black role model”, women and girls whom she counts as her “sheroes”.
Expanding on her club’s mission, 7-year-old Havana was inspired to start a Rhymers Are Readers #37Books fundraising campaign earlier this year after learning that “black and brown children have 37 fewer books in their homes than white children,” according to a study done by Scholastic. It also found that “only 18% of African American fourth graders are proficient readers.” Havana, a mighty bookworm and literacy champion, wanted to help change that by being able to buy 37 books for each of her choir friends to have in their homes to read.
Havana successfully met her fundraising goal of $6,000 in April, and over the next year she will be able to give 3 books to each of her Rhymers Are Readers members, month after month.
While most kids her age are gearing up for summer vacation, the unstoppable Havana, who goes by The Tiny Diplomat handle on her parental-run social media pages, is forging forward with a new fundraising effort she’s undertaken with her good friend, Taylor Richardson, a fellow literacy warrior.
Like Havana, 14-year-old Taylor, aka Astronaut Starbright, a name that reflects her plan to be the first astronaut on Mars, is no stranger to rock-star level fundraising for girl causes. Through Taylor’s efforts, she recently sent over 1,000 girls to see the Ava DuVernay directed A Wrinkle In Time, a follow-up to the STEM advocate teen’s equally successful campaign that enabled countless girls to see Hidden Figures last year.
Through their respective, and always active, GoFundMe pages, Havana and Taylor are now jointly raising $15,000 so they can travel together to Ghana this July to make a special delivery to a group of young Ghanaian girls (ages 3-17) living at the St. Bakhita Foundation orphanage in Accra.
In addition to bringing books, A Wrinkle In Time DVDs, Lottie Dolls and journals as gifts, Havana and Taylor are looking forward to spending time with the girls, as well as sharing culture and ideas. The trip is being coordinated through a nurse practitioner, a friend of Havana’s mom, who works at the Embassy in Accra and helps in the health clinic at the orphanage.
Havana’s campaign page has now swelled to $12,000 – the original $6,000 was allocated to her book club, and anything over that is being put toward other hometown causes close to her heart. Taylor’s campaign page is well over $100,000, with large portions of that total going to fund the multiple philanthropic projects she’s constantly running. Money donated to either of the girls’ pages between now and June 15, 2018 will be earmarked to fund their mission to Accra.
Like Havana said, “One girl is powerful, but a movement of girls in unstoppable.” We’ve joined their movement… will you?