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Back to school shopping? Round up your purchase at Macy’s and help boost literacy in underserved communities.
Photo courtesy of Macy's
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This year, your back-to-school shopping can have a positive impact for local families, and all you have to do is round up at checkout. But first, let's talk about America's literacy problem. Did you know that two-thirds of children living in poverty do not own books?

For these children, schools and local libraries are often the only place where books are easily accessible. And what about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on these under-resourced communities as children were learning remotely? The experience of a child living in an impoverished community is vastly different from the experience of other children. There has been a 27-point gap in literacy proficiency between Black students and their White counterparts for almost thirty years. The pandemic will likely only worsen these numbers.

The ability to read and write is something many of us take for granted (you're reading this article right now!), but according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, sixty-five percent of American 4th graders read below grade level. This sobering statistic translates to approximately 8,000 students dropping out of school every single day. Low literacy rates disproportionately affect poor, underserved areas — students drop out of school, get locked out of the job market due to a lack of education, and the cycle of poverty continues.

Simply put, inequitable access to literacy resources and support is a major part of what perpetuates a cycle of poverty that makes it difficult to succeed academically and ultimately in the workplace.

Literacy isn't only about classroom education — it plays a vital role in transforming children into socially and civically engaged citizens. It means being able to keep up with current events, communicate effectively, pass a driving test, and understand the issues that are shaping our world. It enables us to self-advocate, understand finances, and make better decisions regarding healthcare, housing, and nutrition. The fact that twenty-five million children in the U.S. cannot read proficiently is alarming because every child deserves equitable access to books and education, and we must all come together to address this crisis and make a real change. That statistic doesn't bode well for our future.


Macy's wants to support creating a literate America until every child reads, which is why for the past 18 years, they've partnered with Reading Is Fundamental to provide more than 14 million books and thousands of supplemental literacy resources for children across the country.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Additionally, Macy's is a founding partner of the organization's Race, Equity, and Inclusion (REI) Initiative, which launched in fall of 2020. The purpose of this effort is clear: to provide books and literacy resources to the most marginalized, the most disenfranchised, the most at-risk youth in America, located primarily in the underserved communities of color — and use the power of books for positive impact and change, showcasing diverse books, characters and authors.

The goal is to extend all children the opportunity to reach their potential and to see themselves and a reflection of their experiences in the books they read, inspiring generations to read, learn and grow. RIF's approach not only helps families build diverse at-home libraries, but also builds up diverse book collections at local schools so that every student has an opportunity to see themselves in the books they read and learn about others to create empathy and inclusion.

"Thank you so much for all your organization has done [during COVID]… it's been a difficult time for schools & families. We have been able to begin a book distribution program in Athens that will continue throughout the summer. We estimate we've given out over 12,000 books with no end in sight. Our precious children light up when they get to choose their beautiful new books—and they are reading!" said Jennifer Walker, a Librarian at Ingleside Elementary, in Athens, TN.

So, as you're shopping at Macy's to prepare for the coming school year, be sure to round up your in-store purchase to the nearest dollar and donate your extra change or donate online. A $4 donation equals one book, and one hundred percent of the donations go directly to Reading Is Fundamental, leaving a direct impact by funding critical literacy needs in communities that have the greatest need.

Let's join together to support children's literacy until every child reads.

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The last thing children should have to worry about is where their next meal will come from. But the unfortunate reality is food insecurity is all too common in this country.

In an effort to help combat this pressing issue, KFC is teaming up with Blessings in a Backpack to provide nearly 70,000 meals to families in need and spread holiday cheer along the way.

The KFC Sharemobile, a holiday-edition charitable food truck, will be making stops at schools in Chicago, Orlando, and Houston in December to share KFC family meals and special gifts for a few select families to address specific needs identified by their respective schools.

These cities were chosen based on the high level of food insecurity present in their communities and hardships they’ve faced, such as a devastating hurricane season in Florida and an unprecedented winter storm in Houston. In 2021, five million children across the US lived in food-insecure households, according to the USDA.

“Sharing a meal with family or friends is a special part of the holidays,” said Nick Chavez, CMO of KFC U.S. “Alongside our franchisees, we wanted to make that possible for even more families this holiday season.”

KFC will also be making a donation to Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit that works to provide weekend meals to school-aged children across America who might otherwise go hungry.

“The generous donations from KFC could not have come at a better time, as these communities have been particularly hard-hit this year with rising food costs, inflation and various natural disasters,” Erin Kerr, the CEO of Blessings in a Backpack, told Upworthy. “Because of KFC’s support, we’re able to spread holiday cheer by donating meals for hunger-free weekends and meet each community’s needs,” Kerr said.

This isn’t the first time KFC has worked with Blessings in a Backpack. The fried chicken chain has partnered with the nonprofit for the last six years, donating nearly $1 million dollars. KFC employees also volunteer weekly to package and provide meals to students in Louisville, Kentucky who need food over the weekend.

KFC franchisees are also bringing the Sharemobile concept to life in markets across the country through local food donations and other holiday giveback moments. Ampex Brands, a KFC franchisee based in Dallas, recently held its annual Day of Giving event and donated 11,000 meals to school children in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

If you’d like to get involved, you can make a donation to help feed students in need at kfc.com/kfcsharemobile. Every bit helps, but a donation of $150 helps feed a student on the weekends for an entire 38-week school year, and a donation as low as $4 will feed a child for a whole weekend.

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In an emotional video to her fans, the 54-year-old French-Canadian singer apologized for taking so long to reach out and explained that her health struggles have been difficult to talk about.

"As you know, I have always been an open book, and I wasn't ready to say anything before. But I'm ready now."

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Trevor Noah, who has spent the past seven years hosting "The Daily Show," has officially said goodbye to his late-night fans. While he could have chosen any note to leave on, he made his final words an emotional tribute to the Black women who have influenced him.

Since he took over the spot from Jon Stewart, Noah has made the show his own with a blend of quick-witted comedy and thoughtful commentary. Noah had big shoes to fill, but to his credit, he didn't try to cram his feet into them. He simply brought his own shoes and placed them right next to Stewart's, offering his own style of comedy and unique perspectives on the world night after night. Even in his "Between the Scenes" segments, where he chatted with the audience during commercial breaks, Noah frequently added insightful context to current issues.

In his final monologue, he credits those insights to his Black women mentors, from his own mother and grandmother to thought leaders he has had on his show to Black women in general. And it's quite telling that he managed to keep it together in his final show, right up until the point when he talked about these women.

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The medley that closes out the second side of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album is one of the most impressive displays of musicianship in the band’s storied career. It also provided the perfect send-off before the band’s official breakup months later, ending with the lyrics, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

In 1969, “Abbey Road” was the last record the group made together, although “Let it Be,” recorded earlier that year, was released in 1970.

At first, the medley was just a clever way for the band to use a handful of half-finished tunes, but when it came together it was a rousing, grandiose affair.

Arranged by Paul McCartney and producer George Martin, the medley weaves together five songs written by McCartney, "You Never Give Me Your Money," "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight” and "The End," and three by John Lennon, “Sun King," "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam."

Fifteen seconds after the medley and the album’s conclusion, there is a surprise treat, McCartney’s 22-second “Her Majesty,” which wound up on the record as an accident.

Jack Black and Kyle Gass, collectively known as Tenacious D, recently reimagined two of the songs in the medley, "You Never Give Me Your Money" and "The End," for acoustic guitars for a performance on SiriusXM's Octane Channel. Like everything with Tenacious D, it showed off the duo’s impressive musical chops as well as their fantastic sense of humor.

The truncated version of the medley was also a wonderful tribute to the incredible work the Beatles did 53 years ago.

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During one of Variety's “Actors on Actors” segments, the two swapped stories of being in the entertainment business—from the movie “Airheads," which they both starred in, to more recent projects like Sandler’s “Hustle” and Fraser’s “The Whale.”

It’s clear that these two respect and admire each other’s work. Sandler applauded Fraser’s career-long stride of making bold and interesting choices, and especially commended him for his starring role in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” which has been hailed as a major comeback for the “Mummy” franchise star.
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