During the Civil Rights Movement, The Black Panther Party sought social justice for African Americans and other oppressed communities through a combination of revolutionary theory, education, and community programs. (Au, 2001) Today, Candice Williams, alongside her sons, fight against illiteracy within the black community with her online reading program, Urby Education.
Urby Education was founded in 2018 after M-STEP reading scores in Detroit made headlines. Scores were so low, Detroit was nickamed “the illiterate city.”
Being a native Detroiter and an educator for 11 years, Williams decided it was the time to be a part of the solution. Going into business wasn’t just business as usual for her, it was personal because as an adolescent she too struggled with literacy.
“Illiteracy was a shot to my self-esteem, costly, created significant challenges in my education, and it creates a pipeline to poverty and prison, but education is the way out.”Candice Williams
Believing that it takes a village to fight against illiteracy, she developed her own curriculum called Shaping Phonics, that uses a multi-sensory approach to learning by incorporating hands on material, like shapes, to bring learning to life.
They also provide support for parents through online courses and coaching services so they can be literacy coaches at home. Children too are supported through their reading intervention services, taught by certified instructors that Williams trains and Urby provides.
Fighting against illiteracy, especially in the black community, it’s especially important for Williams to be involved in every aspect of the business. For her it wasn’t just about our stories that aren’t being told and taught in schools, but it’s about having the autonomy to change the narrative, teach what she wants and how she wants. It’s about creating a solution that fights systemic racism that plagues urban school districts and overcoming the challenges that a lack of funding creates in providing an education to black students.
Wanting to ensure that her children didn’t fall victim to the same challenges that illiteracy caused her, Williams made it her mission to teach her sons to read all before Kindergarten. Building Urby, she used her children as proof that her system works.
Her son reading so fluently so young has caught the attention of many on social media. Soon he took interest in her videos and teaching so he was hired. He’s the youngest teacher hired today at only 3 years old; now over 1,300 parents from 90 different countries tune in to be taught by the prodigy himself.
In striving to provide students with an education, her sons were also learning the value of hard work behind entrepreneurship. They’ve been involved in the creative processes, learned about creating multiple streams of income, perseverance, resilience, and seen disappointments too but Williams positivity has remained a beacon of hope for them along the way.
Williams is now working on a myriad of projects to give people access to her programs. She’s working to have her online program implemented in school districts across the country and hosts a show called, Black Literacy on Trend, it infuses trending topics, culture, and of course literacy. The show airs live on Instagram Tuesdays at 6 pm, EST.
Follow Williams and her sons on their incredible journey to change the face of education for the black community. You can find them on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram @urbyeducation. Check out their website and online store at www.urbykids.com .