Carvent Webb's The Open Book Foundation Saves Children One Book at a Time
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

Name: Carvent Webb II

Profession: Founder/CEO of The Open Book Foundation; Author of “A Guide to the Simple Life” and government ( Department Homeland Security)

Carvent Webb, II, knows that a mind is not only a terrible thing to waste, but the lack of readily available resources, such as books and supplies, can be a crucial and detrimental roadblock for many of our low-income youth, too. As a former educator, Webb noticed a void in the so-called “urban education” sector and decided to resolve the situation one book at a time. “The Open Book Foundation works to serve Title I (low-income) elementary schools by purchasing, and donating new reading books to schools and communities in need. We found that one of the biggest challenges in Title I elementary schools was literacy and access to literacy resources in these schools. We work to try and eliminate that one obstacle these students and families face, and by doing so we strive to reinforce family engagement, and excellence in education,” he tells BE Modern Man.

Having worked closely with grade school children, Web quickly realized the disadvantage of not having enough resources was much more common, but it accounted for a lower education performance rate especially on the literacy comprehension level. “I realize the lack of resources when I worked in education,” he says. “I started the notice on a more quantitative level when we started looking at statistics on low-income elementary schools specifically those schools below the state and school system literacy average. When we started to look deeper we saw trends across the country. When schools have high free or reduced lunch population, limited diversity in students, and low-income communities surrounding the schools, the literacy proficiency in those schools were lower sometimes significantly than the school districts, state, and national average. To make it more definitive we noticed that based off testing schools specifically showed low literacy scores for third grade students. Although this is the first grade where a student is generally tested, these results let us know that most students are going into third grade not being proficient in second grade reading.”

Since launching in 2012, The Open Book Foundation has gifted a tremendous amount of textbooks to more than 1,000 classrooms across the country in an effort to arm those deserving students with the possibility of competing against other institutions, which in return,  strengthens their minds and instills confidence in every area of their young lives. “Honestly, when co-founder Ryan Howell and I started this organization, we really just wanted to make a difference. I was working for the government at the time in Kuwait and it was right after I published my first book. I was taking half of the book sale profits and purchasing books for teachers I knew as a former educator. Working in the education system I had the opportunity to see the challenges not only teachers face, but the obstacles students face in and outside of school. We wanted to something to show that black men still cared about what happens to our communities and youth. 80,000 books donated and 4 years later we are still working to provide that same image,” he states.

“I’ve tried my best to not focus on what my direct impact does for a community, but more so the inspiring minds I can activate by the things I do in the community. One of my favorite quotes I use a guide to thought process when working to impact the community is this: If we wish to make our children better, one of the things we have to do is to teach them the knowledge of themselves. As a little boy, my blessed mother kept instilling in me, the love and pride of being black. She made me to know my history, and to know my roots, so I grew up with a love for myself, and secure within myself.”

And theses are all positive attributes we look for when searching for BE Modern Man hopefuls. He says, “BE Modern Man means strive to give something greater than yourself. It reminds me that the things I try to accomplish don’t go unnoticed. It’s a pact on my back to let me know that I, like the motivators before me are doing something right. That somehow, someway, my message is being heard. That’s motivation! That’s the type of thing that makes me roll my sleeves up that much more and go to work that much harder.

“People need to see individuals building their success from the beginning stages. That’s where the motivation comes in because it allows you to see that person as a person, and not just a ‘Michael Jordan’ anomaly. When they realize that al you did was focus on this, or you decided to do that, it shows that they actually can do the things they want to do and accomplish.”

One last thing: “Co-Founder Ryan Howell, Chairman of the Board Anthony Davis, and I have all made a pledge to continue to work to serve communities around the country until we are no longer needed. I want our schools and communities to get to a point where The Open Book Foundation doesn’t need to exist. Until we can get to that point we will continue to spread our message of providing love, hope and inspiration with every book donated.”

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