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The New Wellness: Rebirthing the 'Talented Tenth'.

Reading is the new wellness for our black boys!

Our black and brown boys grades 3rd — 8th are facing a grade level reading comprehension crisis! Consider:

  • The Black Star Project published findings as recently as 2017 that just 10 percent of eighth-grade Black boys in the U.S. are considered “proficient” in reading (The Edvocate, 2017)

  • On national tests last year, only 18 percent of black 4th-graders scored proficient or above in reading; the figure for white 4th-graders was 45 percent. For 8th graders, the percentages were 15 and 42 percent (Wexler, 202)

  • In 2022, Black students in Arizona had an average reading score that was 23 points lower than that for White students (

  • In 2022, Hispanic students in Arizona had an average score that was 24 points lower than that for White students. (

What is the future of our race if these trends continue and as society continues its technological advancements? Will our boys grow up and become part of a permanent underclass?

In 1903, as industrialization began skyrocketing, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois pondered the question of the “talented tenth”, the “one in ten Black men that have cultivated the ability to become leaders of the Black community by acquiring a college education, writing books, and becoming directly involved in social change.” Dubois advocated for classical education as an impetus for social change.

One hundred years later, such a notion seems outmoded. But is it really? Is it farfetched to believe that a tenth of our black boys flourishing academically, socially and civically may bode well for our community as a whole? The aforementioned Black Star report is evidence of this actually being the case — only ten percent are reading on a proficient level!

Studies show that if black and brown boys are not reading on grade-level by fourth grade, a dismal future of delinquency awaits them.

I want every child to flourish in their God-given talent and become productive and courageous leaders!

The Charley and Dorothy Croomes Foundation exists to transform our families and communities into the kingdom of God and the kingdom of God into our families and communities.

Through The Kusoma Project, our reading initiative, we imagine a world where black and brown boys are excelling in reading proficiency as reflected in test scores and are flourishing intellectually, spiritually, civically and socially.

‘Kusoma’ is Swahili for “love of reading”.

One of our four core ideals is literacy. Specifically, our mission is to improve grade level reading comprehension among the black and brown boy elementary population. Our program includes:

  • tutoring

  • success academy

  • access to grade-level books

  • an online book club

  • annual read-in event

We are raising awareness and inspiring change as we empower the human endeavor by helping our target group thrive academically and socially!

Pastor W. Eric Croomes is Executive Director of The Kusoma Project, a literacy improvement initiative.

Click below to read our vision and mission statement and to help CDCF bring a solution to this problem:

Visit The Kusoma Project on Facebook:

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