BY ADIANNA ALSTON | AC JosepH Media
CAMDEN –– A passion for reading sparked at a young age has now manifested into purpose.
Danielle Jackson is the founder of The Hoodbrary, a company whose mission is to provide literature and resources to the community while working to improve literacy skills.
Jackson, who earlier this was given the SJ Magazine Woman of Excellence Award, was inspired to start the Hoodbrary in 2019 after witnessing library closures throughout her hometown of Camden.
“I just found that we were missing resources and so I decided to supply those resources,” she told Front Runner New Jersey.
When she first started her company, Jackson was driven by a strong desire to share her love of books with her community.
“I honestly just wanted to get people reading,” she said. “I didn’t know what kind of impact it was going to have, I just knew what I needed growing up and so the goal is to be who I needed.”
One of the most unique and special qualities of a book is its ability to transport the reader to anywhere in the world without leaving the room. As a child, Jackson had a deep appreciation for this realization.
“Coming from a low to moderate income city, travel as a kid was very rare, so I traveled through books.”
Jackson’s goal is to give youth the tools to see things in their mind’s eye.
“If you can see it, then you can think it, you can picture it, and you can pretty much manifest it,” she shared.
One of the driving forces behind Jackson’s success with her business is due to the connections and partnerships she has formed with other businesses in her community.
“I connect and collaborate with multiple organizations all over the city. I believe collaboration is key,” she stated.
Some of these organizations include the I Dare to Care Association, Mighty Writers Camden, B.O.S.S. Mentoring, Inc, Urban Promise Camden and much more. These collaborations serve to create a strong network with a focus on providing support for the community.
The Hoodbrary was able to offer its first scholarship award this year, The Hoodbrary Book Scholarship, which was awarded to Shevahn Steele of Brimm Medical Arts High School. The organization hopes to continue to offer this resource annually.
Jackson is a recent recipient of the Inspiration Award from SJ Magazine. She describes her feelings upon receiving this recognition with Front Runner New Jersey.
“It’s such a humbling experience that was completely unexpected. It’s an honor because there are some heavy hitters being honored. So, to be in line with those women or to be considered being cut from the same cloth––it’s a blessing,” she reflected.
Jackson looks forward to the opportunities this recognition may present for the future of the Hoodbrary. She shares plans in the works for a “Book-Mobile” that would keep her business on the move.
“I can’t do four walls. I don’t want a building or anything like that. I can’t be stationary––I’m a goer. If I can travel and go how I need to and be able to carry as many books and resources as I can, then I would be way more effective. The Book-Mobile is the next big thing,” she said.
Jackson also reveals plans for the Book-Mobile to double as a vibe space where she can host pop up poetry cafés.
“It wouldn’t just be a bookmobile. I would provide a vibe, I would bring tables and chairs out, lights, and my dad is a chef so he does all the food for my events.”
Jackson is further striving to give back to her community through her run for Camden City School Board. When she was first approached about the matter, Jackson shares how it was a no brainer for her.
“Camden City School District saved my life. Everything––the educators, the administration, everybody from the lunch staff to the custodial staff to principal––everybody treats these kids like they treated us––like we were their children. Everything is just starting to come full circle so why wouldn’t I pour back into the district that poured into me?”
Jackson plans to use this role to improve the level of communication between administration and those in the community.
“Making sure that people feel heard, seen, and understood. That’s the biggest thing. We could navigate so much more of troubled waters in our lives if we were just able to communicate better or if everyone felt seen heard and understood,” she said.
At her core, Jackson is a Jersey girl through and through and isn’t afraid to express it.
“I absolutely love where I come from. I absolutely love repping Camden.”
Jackson encourages others to keep their eye on Camden, asserting that her city is one to watch.
“Camden is innovative, we are on the rise, we’re on the move, we’re going through a renaissance and it’s only up from here.”
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