School may only run from September to June, but kids' hair and brains grow and learn year round—which is why barber Ryan Griffin at The Fuller Cut in Ypsilanti, MI started a "Read To The Barber" program for kids. After seeing a similar program in Harlem in NYC, Griffin went to his boss Alex Fuller, who gave him the green light. The program gives parents $2 off haircuts if their child reads aloud in the chair while the barber works (or the child can keep the $2 for themselves).
"It's just being responsible," says Griffin. "We want to be more than just a place where people can come get a haircut." He also makes sure the kids don't just go through the motions, because reading comprehension is "the big thing." Griffin and the other barbers make sure to quiz the kids on their books before letting them out of their chairs.
Read To The Barber runs year-round, but it's most important in the summer, when students lose crucial educational gains from the school year. This "summer slide" is worst for low-income students, because more affluent parents can afford educational and enrichment activities for their kids. For families where both parents work all year, even library time can be tough. This saves parents money, gives kids a solid hour of free tutoring and positive reinforcement.
The Fuller Cut is not the only barbershop doing this either. Besides the Harlem salon that inspired Griffin, NBC also profiled the Spark Family Salon in Dubuque, Iowa, which started a similar program called Tales For Tykes.
Just another reminder that it really does take a village, and there are always ways you can help your community in your life and even at work.