The Book Works Helping Youth Find Education and Employment

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Reading books puts a smile on Nicolette Josee’s face.

“I’ve been reading since I was a kid, you know, and doing those book adventures and you get a prize for it. Yeah, that’s my stuff,” says Josee.

What You Need To Know

  • The Book Works reconnects youth with education and employment
  • Interns are building, designing and stuffing bookshelves with social justice books
  • The bookshelves will be added to community centers around Louisville
  • The Book Works education advocacy fellowship units high-school aged youth with college mentors

The 16-year-old is within walking distance of a library. She says she couldn’t imagine not having that easy access to free books.

“That would suck because then I wouldn’t be able to read,” says Josee.

She knows some kids don’t have that same privilege. This summer she is working to change that.

“What I’m doing right now is painting this bookshelf that we’re gonna fit social justice books in for the community centers,” says Josee.

Nicolette is a social justice book project intern at The Books Works.

The paid internship promotes education, civic engagement, and teen literacy through books that inspire young people to take action on important issues.

“Books are important because they help your brain to help you with learning new words and just learning new things in general… It’s having good adventures. When you read books, you’re calm,” says Josee.

The project’s team builds, paints, and stuffs bookshelves with books they collected.

The shelves will be placed in community centers around the city. The shelf, designed by Josee, will be placed in the Shively library.

“I think this will mean that they can read more and they’ll be more happy and that people actually care for them and their education,” says Josee.

The community center bookshelf project is a new and seasonal initiative.

Year-round The Book Works reconnects young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 to education and work.

It does so through programs like its education advocacy fellowship that links college students with high school-age youth.

“Just making sure that like, on their path, their educational journey they have any resources and support that they may need and just kind of being like their cheerleader and being there for them alongside the way,” says education advocate Quin’Tanay Smith.

Advocates like Smith, a social work graduate student at the University of Louisville, work to identify the root causes of educational disruptions and provide resources and school options to those students.

She says many obstacles like childhood trauma, social or racial discrimination and economic hardship can keep young people from accessing education and employment.

“Lack of resources, they could be taking care of siblings, they could be having to work to support their family, they might lack that support system, which is like a main portion of what we do as education advocates, is being that support system because you never know the kind of support system that a student may or may not have,” says Smith.

Whether it’s access to technology or a good read, The Book Works hopes to provide resources to young people experiencing a tough chapter.

“It means that I’m doing something good for people because, you know, people deserve kindness in the world. It’s a dark world, but it’s some good people out there,” says Josee.

She believes no matter what’s been thrown at you, with a little help you have the power to create a storybook ending.

The book works is partnering with the Coalition Supporting Young Adults to hold an education advocacy conference on July 26th from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm.

The one-day conference will support high school-age learners restarting their path to graduation.


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