Dianne Jackson and Anissa McLendon received the Jan Allen Award from the Chapel Hill chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) on Oct. 10 for their work helping women and young girls in Chapel Hill.
They are the first women to receive the Jan Allen Award.
Jackson is an educational justice advocate. As a member of the NAACP Education Committee, she helped start the Learning Bridge program, alongside Laila Bradford, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Learning Bridge program offers virtual tutoring as well as on-site tutoring for students in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.
“We started in Elliot Woods housing development, and then the Church of Reconciliation has let us use the space free for now,” Jackson said. “We have kids who come on a regular basis, two times a week. They have been doing this since the beginning of the pandemic, and we do on-site tutoring for elementary kids.”
Jackson said she has been doing this kind of work since the 1980s.
“I came here as a librarian in the '80s and was immediately concerned about what they call the 'achievement gap,' but I call it the 'opportunity gap,'” Jackson said. “I was concerned about the perception of the community as it relates to educational achievement for kids of color.”
Jackson said that when she came to Chapel Hill, she noticed some of the teachers were doubting the ability of their students.
“I think that led me to become an advocate,” Jackson said.
McLendon, the other recipient of the Jan Allen Award, created the Empowering Excellence Through Exploration Camp (E3 Camp), an arts and STEM camp for Black middle and high school students.