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Preface's groundbreaking national literacy efforts were spotlighted by the Georgia Asian Times (“GAT”), with Founder & Executive Director Jonathan “JT” Wu participating in an exclusive Executive Profile interview with GAT’s Publisher, Li Wong.
GWINNETT COUNTY, GA. – In a wide-ranging conversation about Preface’s innovative model, its exciting results, and its proud Georgia roots, Preface Founder & Executive Director, Jonathan “JT” Wu, recently joined Li Wong, the publisher of the Georgia Asian Times, for an exclusive interview.
Self-described as a pioneering digital and physical media outlet, the GAT is the largest newspaper dedicated to covering the diverse Asian American and Pacific Islander community in Georgia and the broader Southeast. Its Executive Profile series spotlights leading Asian-Americans in both the public and private-sectors operating in the Southeastern United States.
Wu and Wong discussed Preface’s unique mission of fighting for equality through education and early childhood literacy, particularly in culturally and linguistically diverse communities like Gwinnett County. In particular, Wu touched on how his conversations with experienced educators and his own personal background growing up as the child of immigrants in a now-rapidly diversifying part of the South helped inform the Preface perspective and its tailored approaches to community empowerment.
“The Preface story, it’s a personal one,” said Wu. “Preface was born out of the fundamental conviction that every child, no matter where they live or what language they speak, deserves the educational opportunities and the foundations to achieve their own American Dreams.”
“I grew up in Gwinnett County, [and] we’ve seen a lot of demographic change here even in just the last couple of decades,” continued Wu. “These aren’t things that are just unique to us here in Georgia, or even just here in the South. Gwinnett County itself is a microcosm of this incredible diversification that’s happening all across America…. We have a high school that we work with where, just in that student body alone, there are 80 countries represented…. and while [this diversity makes] us so competitive and so exceptional as a County, especially in this period of incredible globalization, [it can still present] unique challenges for our young students.”
Wu went on to say the Preface model was designed to deliberately harness this diversity by recruiting and training talented local high school student “Ambassadors” to serve young children struggling with literacy in their own communities – enabling high-impact and low-cost peer-to-peer mentorship between students with similar lived experiences.
“When we started talking to teachers and folks who are involved in education, not just in Georgia but across America,” Wu stated, “we saw that there was a real need for some no-cost and very effective resources for teachers to be able to do their jobs even more effectively in the classroom. And that’s how we came together, with expert educators, mentors, and leaders in both the public and private-sectors to develop this Preface model.”
However, Wu noted, Preface has seen students in their programs achieve literacy across all language backgrounds – indicating that these methods work in predominantly monolingual communities as well. These virtual and in-person small-group reading sessions help both sets of students thrive in an accessible and cost-efficient way, and Wu states that this is an intentional part of the Preface design.
“We wanted to build Preface to show that we didn’t need millions and millions of dollars to start making a difference in our own backyards. These are things that students can do every single day, for free – and to fund books for a young child and provide them literacy materials for a year can [cost] as little as $10 dollars a month.”
“At the end of the day, literacy and educational opportunity are something that should be accessible to every child,” Wu said. “Even just a couple of dollars a month can make a tremendous difference in opening doors of opportunity for young students; and we’re excited to be a part of this journey.”
A link to the full interview with the Georgia Asian Times is available here.
Founded in 2019, Preface is a public-private philanthropic initiative dedicated to fostering Equality Through Education and early childhood literacy - often with a multilingual twist! Partnering with educators and community leaders, Preface empowers local high schoolers to give back to their communities and bridge opportunity gaps by fostering literacy among young students of all backgrounds. A federally recognized 501(c)(3) organization, Preface is proudly headquartered in Gwinnett County, Georgia and serves communities across America. Learn more at www.PrefaceProject.org.
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