On the week of September 21, 2020, HomeWorks Trenton, a community-based after-school program dedicated to empowering young women, received a free classroom set of books from online bookstore ReTell.
ReTell, the Brooklyn, New York based company provided HomeWorks with 25 physical copies of the book, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow Is Enuf”. The books will be read by the young women attending the HomeWorks course titled ‘For Colored Girls’ with teacher Ms. Youtee.
“We are so grateful to ReTell Bookstore for this donation. Our scholars already started reading it,” said Natalie Tung, Co-founder and Executive Director of HomeWorks Trenton.
According to Tung, the book will be used to show how vulnerable Black and Latinx girls are to the mental, physical and emotional wear-and-tear of racism and discrimination, as well as to name and call out the various ways these girls center and make space for themselves despite racial and gender injustices.
Selah Hampton, the Founder and CEO of ReTell Bookstore is a former classmate of Tung’s from Princeton University. Both women kept in contact after they gradated together in 2018. The two businesswomen spent over a year discussing HomeWorks and its program, which encouraged Hampton to arrange the donation.
Hampton said, “I have always wanted to work more closely with the organization and it seemed like a really perfect match for this time. (Tung) works with the communities that I wanted to target and to make a difference in.”
HomeWorks Trenton prides itself on its ability to equip young women from marginalized communities with the skills they need to achieve their full potential and positively transform the world around them. By providing an educational and supportive environment, the five and a half day after-school program aims to uplift the community.
For Hampton, the opportunities that HomeWorks Trenton provides to its community sits close to home. As a former KIPP Public Charter School student, she recalls the moment when she noticed not all students have equal access to schooling materials.
“In the eighth grade, (our class) went to tour a private high school that was primarily white in Atlanta and stopped by another eighth grade class and they all had the newest copies of the Shakespearian book they were reading. That was really the first time that I realized that there was a difference,” Hampton said.
Growing up, the idea that every student in class had a copy of a book was new to Hampton. For her, it was normal for students to share copies or not to have books in the classroom at all. However, as a child to a mother who reinforced the importance of reading, Hampton wants to make sure all students are provided with that opportunity.
“It’s important to me to be able to provide an opportunity and to provide that access to students that might not have it, because I’m a firm believer that everyone is deserving of having those opportunities and of having access to resources,” she said.
As the young girls of HomeWorks Trenton begin to read their new books, Hampton hopes the donation is able to inspire.
Hampton said, “I hope that they know that there are so many people who love and believe in them and who are inspired by their dedication to learning and that want to be a part of that journey. ReTell is really happy to support them in any way and to be that foundation and basis for support moving forward.”