Irish Receives Local NAACP Award

In October, Sharon Irish, a project coordinator with the Center for Digital Inclusion, received the “Yes We Can” Education Award from the Champaign County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The award was presented at the Freedom Fund banquet in Champaign on October 20, 2017. Sharon said that a key reason to celebrate this award is the opportunity to honor and recognize the groups with which she has worked over the past several decades: the Dream Girls Academy, Inc. (Debarah McFarland, President and CEO); the Urbana Neighborhood Connections Center (Executive Director, Janice Mitchell); Tap In Leadership Academy (CEO Sally Carter) and the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club (CEO Sam Banks) and Ghetto Genius (Founder, Dr. Will Patterson). Sharon aims to support and amplify the work of these key leaders, as well as that of Dr. Ruth Nicole Brown, the visionary of Saving Our Lives, Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT). Sharon connected with many of these groups initially through her work at the Center for Digital Inclusion, formerly the Community Informatics Initiative, as well as her involvement with local public libraries and schools. She reflected that “education means building on the cultural wealth in our communities, supporting each learner where they are to move toward their own goals in the context of their own relationships. The amazing leaders among us show up time and again to create new knowledge with other learners through imaginative interactions–imagining well-being and brilliance, collaborating to move toward those goals. As Grace Lee Boggs wrote, ‘students must discover their own understanding of the truth by developing a heightened awareness of their situation;’ we must explore ‘why’ in addition to knowing ‘how’.”

project coordinator, School of Information Sciences

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