Brookline Literacy Parthership's Intellijam

Brookline Literacy Parthership’s Intellijam

The Brookline Literacy Partnership is gearing up for its second annual IntelliJam Fundraising Concert. IntelliJam 2011 will be held Sunday, May 15 at 4:00 pm at Temple Ohabei Shalom in Brookline. Proceeds from the event will build library collections, provide literacy resources to schools with whom the Partnership works, and fund the Partnership’s Vacation Books project and one-on-one Tutoring Program. Last year, they set a fundraising goal of $10,000. They seek to surpass that milestone this year, and have set a new goal of $15,000.

The Brookline Literacy Partnership is a student group from Brookline High. Created by student Sarah Plovnick, the group is tasked with promoting equal opportunities for literacy in communities lacking basic resources. The group came about through a book drive Sarah organized through her synagogue to help the Emerson School in Dudley Square. She became aware of the dire conditions at Emerson when she learned the school could not provide enough books for all its students. In fact, the entirety of their collection was contained within small classroom shelves. Compounding the need for basic reading material, she found many of Emerson’s 250 K-5 students were recent immigrants from Cape Verde. These children read and wrote in Portuguese and spoke Creole in their homes. In addition to learning English as their third language since moving to Boston, these students must also pass the state’s standardized testing – MCAS. It’s a given that limited access to books hinders literacy in general, but for these students, the lack also impaired their ability to learn English.

members of the Brookline Literacy Partnership

members of the Brookline Literacy Partnership

Inspired by the warmth and motivation of Emerson’s students despite the challenges they faced, Sarah created the Brookline Literacy Partnership thorugh her Social Justice club at BHS. In addition to Sarah, BHS students Elana Ben-Akiva, Mohini Srivastav, Benjamin Doughty, Nadya Karpova, Ben Hoff, Lesly Suriel, Catherine Marris, Claudia Kass LaScola, Joyce Liu, Paola Pevzner, Ben Fletcher, Evan Cutts, Ezra Coopersmith, Ari Coopersmith, Alexandre Lindstrom-Vautrin and Max Gadicke make up the Partnership. Sarah describes their work, “We collect and purchase books to create school-wide and classroom Library Collections, purchase literacy resources, run a weekly Tutoring Program…and conduct the Vacation Books project to gift new books to students to enjoy over vacation.” While all activities have had considerable impact, the tutoring program in particular forged strong bonds between Brookline and Emerson students. Approximately 30 BHS students provided Emerson students with weekly reading, homework and MCAS preparation help. Literacy may have been the initial goal, but it was inevitable that friendships would form from their time together.

To fund their work, the Partnership relies upon their signature event – the Intellijam.  Last year’s event was a great success, and this year is likely to follow suit. IntelliJam 2011 welcomes women’s world music group Zili Misik. The group features Kara Washington, Emerson’s music teacher. Also performing are a Ghanaian drumming group with a master drummer, and the Brookline High School Samba Drumming Group. Performers with ties to the Brookline and Emerson schools were selected specifically to help make this a true community event. Adults and students alike from both schools will perform together.

This year’s Intellijam will be bittersweet. The Emerson school is one of many in the state closing as a result of budget cuts, and its students will be re-assigned to new schools. While the Partnership will maintain ties with as many Emerson students as possible, its mission to promote literacy will include other communities moving forward.

Information on making a donation to the Brookline Literacy Partnership’s is available online and the group may be contacted at for more information on Intellijam 2011.

UPDATE (April 25, 2011) : Tickets may be reserved in advance and picked up May 15, starting at 3:30 pm.  Suggested pricing is $7 for students and $20 for adults. Ticket purchasing information is now availableonline


Catie Hayes, Editor