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African American Leadership Society wants 300 people to help improve student literacy

AALS is also going to “adopt” an elementary school in the Quad Cities to start addressing issues facing black students.

BETTENDORF, Iowa -- A new donor-network part of the United Way of the Quad Cities says it needs help reaching a deadline. The African American Leadership Society, established in late July, is looking to reach some volunteers goals by the end of October.

They want to have 100 volunteers, 100 investors and 100 black, male mentors to join their efforts by Oct. 31, the first 100 days of the initiative.

"The 100 is not the end," Tracy White, manager of the network, said. "The 100 is the beginning, and that other people in the community see we're trying to make a difference."

A major undertaking for the program is helping black students learn to read.

Right now, only 53 percent of black students are prepared for kindergarten. By third grade, 43 percent of black students in the Quad Cities aren't reading at grade level.

Volunteers and mentors work with students to help them get up to speed on reading.

"I believe everything is a cycle," White said. "If you can start changing one area, it starts to affect those other areas. What we need to do right now is hone in on education."

When students excel in school, it sets them up for success after high school and in the job field, White said.

To start addressing issues facing black students, AALS is also going to "adopt" an elementary school in the Quad Cities.  They're currently accepting proposals from schools to be chosen for that initiative.

United Way is holding its fall day of caring with Big Brother, Big Sisters on Sept. 19.