The vision of Harper’s Corner Foundation Inc. is always-on school library book sections on diversity and inclusion to generate conversation, understanding and respect among elementary-age children, educators and families.
The mission of Harper’s Corner is to build awareness and education around diversity and inclusion by donating age-appropriate children’s books to community elementary schools and libraries.
We are a grassroots, volunteer-driven effort founded by local parents committed to bringing about positive change in our communities. We achieve this by reading together and opening up a dialogue among kids, educators and families.
We believe in building a greater understanding around and acceptance of differences that children may or may not experience in their day-to-day lives. Together, we want to shape a new depiction for our kids — one that is inclusive and real.
How we started
As the white parent of a young biracial child, our founder has first-hand experience of racial perceptions and biases. In June 2020, deeply disturbed by the George Floyd murder and growing divisiveness in our country, Julia felt a personal responsibility to help create a better world for all children in her community of Upper Arlington, Ohio, and beyond.
As a mother, she knew the profound impact reading had on her daughter. Recognizing how words can enrich curious young minds, she developed the concept of diversity and inclusion book corners in elementary schools and libraries. These sections would be always-on — not just during Black History Month or other one-time events — to generate awareness and dialogue on diversity and inclusion of all sorts.
Feedback from local school boards and administrators confirmed the need and enthusiasm for the idea behind Harper’s Corner.
How we grew
Through her network of friends and colleagues around the country, the idea immediately went viral. Donations and offers of support began to pour in, and because of the relevance of our mission and vision, another local parent, a mother of a teenager who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, joined the effort as co-leader of Harper’s Corner.
In our first two months, we received approval for Harper’s Corner Foundation Inc. as a non-profit in the state of Ohio, with tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization. We formed an active board of directors and are recruiting additional board members and volunteers to expand our resources and representation in the community. Harper’s Corner is a volunteer organization with no paid staff; all donations go directly to support our mission.
Where we are now
As of March 2021, we have received over $100,000 in financial contributions, enabling us to provide thousands of books to local elementary schools.
As Harper’s Corner gained momentum, a wonderful local bookstore, Cover to Cover Children’s Books of Upper Arlington, joined our team. Together, we curate a selection of age-appropriate children’s books focused on diversity and inclusion. Then, individual schools select titles from Cover to Cover’s curated list of books to add to their libraries and incorporate into curriculum on diversity and inclusion.
Today, we are delighted that Harper's Corner is coming to life in 70 elementary schools in 12 school districts for the 2020-2021 school year, impacting 35,000 students. School librarians are working to incorporate Harper’s Corner books into both in-person and remote learning environments.
Additional funding will help bring more Harper's Corner books into schools already on our waiting list and will enable expansion into more Central Ohio school districts.