The Literacy Lab's Leading Men Fellowship (LMF)

The Literacy Lab’s Leading Men Fellowship (LMF) is designed to close the literacy gap that exists within traditionally underserved and marginalized communities. The program works with young men of color, between the ages of 18 to 24 and with a high school diploma or GED-equivalent, providing them with the opportunity to begin their careers in education by serving pre-K students as early literacy tutors for an entire school year.


Learning loss, precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with existing educational inequities, requires bold and immediate actions to thwart the widening literacy gap. Leading Men Fellowship tackles this challenge in three distinct ways:

1. By closing the literacy gap through evidence-based, high-quality tutoring of pre-K students;
2. By empowering young men of color with financial resources and personal and professional development; and
3. Diversifying the teacher pipeline by laying the foundation for Black and Brown men to pursue careers as early childhood educators.


Research shows that Black students from low-wealth communities are significantly more likely to attend college when they have been taught by at least one Black teacher (Johns Hopkins University, 2017). This is because students become more confident and approach learning differently when they are being taught by teachers who look like them. Using the SEEDS of Learning methodology, LMF helps to build the confidence of young learners, setting them up for future academic success. The program’s data backs this up, showing that 87% of participating pre-K scholars grew towards kindergarten readiness from Fall to Spring.

The Literacy Lab will begin recruitment immediately to place 20 Fellows at the start of the 2022-23 school year in neighborhood preschools with the greatest needs, including in Cincinnati Public Schools. The following year 30 Fellows will be hired, then 40 Fellows in each of the two subsequent years after that, driving significant improvement in Kindergarten readiness among 2,500 young scholars.

“I want to see them be great way, way, beyond preschool,” Heshimu North said of his students. He hopes to build relationships that last in his community.

- Kareem Elgazzar/Madeline Mitchell, The Enquirer

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