Total Equity Now (TEN) is an all-volunteer organization based in Harlem that informs and mobilizes community members of all ages to strengthen education. Much of TEN’s work centers around guiding locals in learning about and utilizing the neighborhood’s literacy resources. TEN aims to provide a platform for Harlemites to share their talents and knowledge about their community in order to catalyst positivity and an impactful transformation in Harlem.
Most of TEN’s volunteer work is partnership driven and involves collaboration with other education-focused organizations in Harlem and the South Bronx, such as the New York Public Library. Over the past four years, through partnerships with cafes and bakeries, colleges, community centers, libraries and faith-based institutions, TEN has collected over 12,000 new and like-new books for families in homeless shelters throughout Harlem. This support network has allowed the organization to unite and inspire neighbors to play a role in strengthening the community and making it more equitable.
Founded by Joe Rogers, Jr., in 2008 with a mission to build social consciousness, expand critical thinking, and promote local youth leadership, today the organization offers a wide range of initiatives, including Literacy Across Harlem and the Harlem Adult Education Conference. One of TEN’s most popular events is the annual Literacy Across Harlem March, which this year took place on September 17. The March mobilizes Harlemites to promote reading, build relationships with neighbors, and donate books to Harlem children and families living in shelters. The march route winds by several reading-related resources featured in TEN’s Literacy Across Harlem Map, which was developed through a collaboration between AGS Scholar Lerone Savage and Joe Rogers, Jr. and recently featured as our Map of the Week.
Presently, TEN focuses all of its volunteer energy on literacy and other education matters in Harlem and the South Bronx. Down the road, however, it may consider forging partnerships with educational-equity-minded organizations in other boroughs. In the immediate future, TEN looks forward to leveraging new digital technologies to develop an interactive Literacy Across Harlem Map that engages more readers, especially families, in the communities it serves.
“Over the past eight years, TEN has mobilized hundreds of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, partnered creatively with dozens of organizations and local small businesses, provided user-friendly tools and engaging programming, and demonstrated the educational and cultural achievements that can result from meaningful and visionary collaboration among people who care deeply about their community. And the best is yet to come!”
Written by: Vivian Chen