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The National Head Start Association (NHSA) wants to encourage more children to embrace reading in the communities it serves. It realizes a partner in this goal can be local police departments.

This week NHSA sent Robert Manning, its Senior Advisor for Community Engagement, to Cleveland to meet with leaders in the police department and CEOGC, so he can learn more about their joint reading program for Head Start students.

In fall 2016, Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams began reading to students at CEOGC’s William Patrick Day Head Start Center in Cleveland’s Central Neighborhood. He discovered the children had as much, if not more natural curiosity for books as they did for his service as a police officer. Teaming with CEOGC, Chief Williams recruited more officers to read to students as the program is proving to be a natural bridge for engaging Cleveland police officers and the communities they serve.

National Head Start Association agrees. It sent Mr. Manning to Cleveland to perform a fast study of the program (Friendship Through Reading) between the Cleveland Police and CEOGC. The goal of the study is to establish a turnkey program that can be scaled nationally with Head Start locations in other large metropolitan markets.

“It’s clear to us from meeting with Cleveland Police officers,” said Mr. Manning, “that their reading program is engaging a younger generation while opening doors to helping them understand the mission of police is to protect and serve their communities.”