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The Ezra Project, in conjunction with the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children and The Shipley School, to dedicate multi-cultural book nook in colorful new library space


PHILADELPHIA, April 17, 2017 – Students at Global Leadership Academy South West School are already excited about reading – and now they’ll have a vibrant new space in their school library to spur their curiosity and sense of exploration even more.

A new multi-cultural book nook will be dedicated during a ribbon cutting ceremony in the school’s “cybrary” on April 21. An added wall of shelves full of hundreds of new books featuring stories with diverse characters is only part of it. Colorful carpet mats, beanbag chairs, and freshly painted orange and lime green walls create an inviting environment for young readers.

The enhancements to the cybrary – a space that encourages discovery through books and technology – were made by possible by The Ezra Project in conjunction with the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC) and The Shipley School.

The Ezra Project was conceived as a chain of small good deeds to help children anywhere who could use a boost. It honors Ezra Keiser who passed away suddenly at age 11 in 2010. “Ezra’s devotion to helping other children and his innate sense of fairness and equality make the creation of this nook a fitting memorial,” said Gwen Keiser, Ezra’s mother and the driving force behind the project.

“The clear majority of Philadelphia public schools lack a functioning library,” noted WePAC Executive Director Heather Farber. “WePAC believes that all students deserve a school library – a place where they can explore, imagine, and succeed. And it’s equally important for students to access stories that reflect who they are and that let them learn about others from their communities and around the world.” WePAC (www.wepac.org) is a nonprofit organization operating volunteer-run library programming in 14 public schools, mostly in West Philadelphia. WePAC began offering programming at Global Leadership Academy South West in November, shortly after the school first opened.

“When we began planning for this school, we knew we wanted the cybrary to be a central feature for our scholars,” said Dr. Naomi Booker, CEO of Global Leadership Academy. “With the support of WePAC, and now The Ezra Project, that dream has been realized.”

Ezra Keiser was a fifth grade student at The Shipley School. His classmates unanimously described him as kind, selfless and bright.  This school year, Shipley students hosted three separate fundraisers across the entire school including a Lower School Bombardment Party, a Middle School Sports Challenge Day and an all-school Varsity Baseball, Softball and Tennis Day.  Middle-schoolers there also provided hands on support to help make the book nook possible.

Shipley students will be on hand during the dedication event to read stories to children from Global Leadership Academy while members of all organizations involved place their handprints on a mural. The mural will hang above the new bookshelves. Handprints of children helped and volunteers, along with the colors orange and lime green – Ezra’s favorites – have become trademarks of each Ezra Project.

In addition to creating the mural, the dedication ceremony will feature remarks from Keiser, Farber, Booker, and Tamika Evans, Principal of Global Leadership Academy South West.

The library enhancements at Global Leadership Academy South West is the sixth project in The Ezra Project’s chain of good deeds. Other projects have been completed in Israel and Philadelphia, including the renewal of the Andrew Jackson School gymnasium in South Philadelphia and most recently, the installation of an edible garden for the residents and neighbors of The Drueding Center in Kensington.   The Ezra Project encompasses kids helping kids at home and abroad, one good deed at a time.


About WePAC

Established during the 2003-2004 school year as an outgrowth of a suburban/urban outreach project between Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church and many civic groups, the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children today is a wholly independent and non-sectarian 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. After the School District of Philadelphia began closing school libraries in a drastic attempt to address the widening budget gap, the current face of WePAC was born, stepping in with library and literacy programming. Since 2009, WePAC has re-opened and operated volunteer-run libraries in Philadelphia public schools. WePAC runs libraries in 14 schools as well as a one-on-one literacy mentoring program, Library Buddies, in several schools.

About The Ezra Project

The Ezra Project was started to honor Ezra Keiser, a fifth grade student who passed away suddenly at age 11 in 2010. Ezra’s classmates at the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr described him a kind, selfless and bright. The Ezra Project is a chain of small good deeds – good deeds to help children anywhere who could use a boost. To date, the Ezra Project has completed six projects across Israel and Philadelphia, including most recently, the renewal of the Andrew Jackson School gymnasium in South Philadelphia, the installation of an edible garden for the residents and neighbors of The Drueding Center in Kensington, and a multi-cultural book nook at Global Leadership Academy South West.  Students from the Shipley School host fundraisers and provide hands on assistance to the Ezra Project to complete each project.

About Global Leadership Academy

Global Leadership Academy Charter School, located in West Philadelphia, operates two public schools authorized by the School District of Philadelphia: Global Leadership Academy West (established 2007) and Global Leadership Academy South West (established 2016). The academies offer a holistic teaching and learning program through global studies and leadership development with a goal of nurturing its scholars to be creative leaders who are globally competitive yet compassionate.

About The Shipley School

The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Through its commitment to educational excellent, The Shipley School works to develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.

For more information, contact: Heather Farber, WePAC Executive Director, heather@wepac.org