Pinellas County Rep. Michele Rayner is hoping to secure a little over a quarter-million in funding for a St. Petersburg-based Barbershop Book Club.
The representative is seeking $270,000 from the Florida Department of Education for a reading initiative targeting inner-city children, especially young boys, according to the appropriations request.
The money would be directed to the St. Pete non-profit Community Development and Training Center to be used for the program.
The request divides the funding among the program director’s salary ($55,000), administrative support ($25,000) and other salaries/training stipends ($150,000), as well as resources ($35,000) and data/marketing ($5,000).
The program seeks to provide kids a supportive, community space to read — the Barber shop.
Barbers implementing the program would encourage reading by providing interesting and relevant books to young clients, according to the request. Barbers would also read with children to improve reading fluency and comprehension.
The program would also serve as an educational tool for parents. The barbers would serve as models in reading with children to encourage parents to continue this as a daily practice at home, in the car, etc., according to the request.
The program would also reward young clients with books and incentives.
The goal of the project is to help “encourage, edify and promote a love for reading among children of the inner city,” according to the request. While the program hopes to improve reading scores and educational performance of children aged 4 to 16, it also seeks to instill a love of reading.
The request estimates the program will need less than $1 million from the state over the next three years.