LeVar Burton to keynote SHARP Literacy fundraiser

Taking the podium at SHARP Literacy Inc.’s 2014 “A Novel Event” will be LeVar Burton, an Emmy Award-winning actor, producer, director and author who shares the nonprofit’s drive to engage urban children in reading.

The fundraising event, in its 13th year, is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 22, from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at The Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Proceeds collected will help fund the delivery of SHARP Literacy’s foundational literacy program to elementary school students in 38 struggling schools in Milwaukee.

Keynote speaker Burton gained fame as host and executive producer of PBS’ “Reading Rainbow,” an educational TV program for kids that was recognized with more than 200 broadcast awards over its run on PBS from 1983 to 2006.

“Each year, we try to choose a keynote speaker that really has had an impact on literacy and reading on a national level,” said Lynda Kohler, president and chief executive officer of SHARP Literacy.

To continue his passion of teaching kids how to read, Burton has created RRKidz, a reading and exploration platform and company that piques kids’ interest in reading through their digital devices. He has also created a “Reading Rainbow” application for children ages three to nine, as well as a Kickstarter campaign. Through the campaign, Burton hopes to develop a new “Reading Rainbow” program that functions on all platforms, as well as raise enough funds to donate the program’s educational materials to schools in need.

According to Kohler, Burton’s new programming falls in line with the theme of the 2014 A Novel Event: “The age of 21st Century learning is upon us.”

“Digital learning, such as RRKidz and the new ‘Reading Rainbow’ program, is another pathway to literacy, and we support LeVar’s efforts to bring ‘Reading Rainbow’ to every classroom,” Kohler said.

Last year’s keynote speaker was retired Green Bay Packers player Donald Driver, who has authored a collection of children’s books.

Individual tickets for A Novel Event cost $100. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.sharpliteracy.org.

BizTimes Media is serving as the media sponsor of the event.

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