Jordan Grabelle, 14, has spent half of her life promoting literacy.

Cherri Gregg/KYW Newsradio

Jordan Grabelle: Changing the game by aiding young readers

February 19, 2019 - 6:00 am
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Jordan Grabelle, 14, has spent half of her life promoting literacy. 

It all began at age 7, when she volunteered for her sister Alexa's effort, called Bag of Books. Over the years, as Jordan helped distribute books, she noticed a problem among younger kids in at-risk communities: They were having a tough time reading.

"I learned how to read at a young age," she said, "and I think it's really important for kids to read from a young age, too."

Her solution: provide pre-readers, ages 2 to 8, with alphabet cards and games, along with a letter explaining how it all works.  

At 10 years old, Jordan organized volunteers to create flashcards, a project called Love Letters for Literacy. They organized the cards in packets and began to distribute them to classrooms in Camden and Philadelphia.

"People were a little skeptical at first about how much of an impact it could make," Jordan noted, "but as soon as we got going and got responses from the recipients of the packets and the different teachers whose classes we went to, it was reassuring to know that we were doing a good job."

 Jordan Grabelle, 14, started Love Letters for Literacy to promote reading at an early age.
Courtesy of Love Letters for Literacy

Today, the Camden County ninth-grader's efforts have resulted in more than 1,000 shared packets across five states and three countries.

Jordan co-designed the curriculum, which was approved by the University of Pennsylvania. The handmade packets are a low-cost, fun way to teach kids the basics of reading. 

"I really like working with the kids," said Jordan, who is hoping to expand the project by making the flashcards available online and partnering with colleges across the country. "My goal is to spread the project as much as possible so I can help as many people as I can."

Like many kids her age, Jordan loves sports. An avid field hockey and lacrosse player, she also spends her free time watching reality TV.

"I love 'The Bachelor,' " she admitted, smiling.

Attributing her organization and time-management skills to Love Letters for Literacy's success, Jordan is a hard worker with big goals, hoping to go to law school one day.

"I want to be an intellectual property lawyer," she added.

 Jordan Grabelle, 14, has spent half of her life promoting literacy. She started Love Letters for Literacy to promote reading at an early age.
Courtesy of Love Letters for Literacy

Jordan received a citation from the City of Camden for her work. She also received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award from the African-American Resource Center — and it all started with being a strong reader.

"It's unfair for people to not have the advantage of being able to read," Jordan said. "It's very necessary, especially today."

Jordan wants to help as many kids as possible learn to read at an early age. 

She also isn't the first in her family to be named a KYW Newsradio GameChanger — big sister Alexa was a 2014 honoree. But Jordan is the first to change the game by getting kids involved from the first stage of learning.

"I believe I am changing the game by giving people equal opportunities to learn to read," she said.

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GameChangers is led by KYW Newsradio's community affairs reporter Cherri Gregg and recognizes 10 individuals or organizations that are making a positive impact on communities of color. For a full list of 2019's GameChangers, visit kywnewsradio.com/gamechangers.