Mission & Vision
Line4Line is a non-profit organization that works through barbershops to support literacy and close the achievement gap by building self-esteem and providing positive learning opportunities for youth through mentor led out-of-school reading and creative programs.
Line4Line seeks to strengthen community from within by designing impactful experiences that support grade level and above literacy through a program of healthy relatable role modeling and mentoring while also creating a space for out-of-school literacy and mentor led programs that foster future social and academic success.
Line4Line began as an unlikely partnership between an art museum and a barbershop. Inspired by the story of an Iowa barber who gave free haircuts to boys in exchange for reading books. Lucy Perera, then educator from the LSU Museum of Art, devised a plan to find a barber in Baton Rouge who was interested in starting a similar program. Three months later she was introduced to O’Neil Curtis, owner of O’Neil’s Barber & Beauty Salon, and the program was hatched, a name was created, a date was set, and the program began.
Line4Line strengthens literacy and communication skills, comprehension and attitudes around reading for boys ages 3-13 by providing free haircuts in exchange for reading books. Within the African American community barbershops serve as important social, cultural and intellectual hubs. By bringing books into the culturally significant space, youth not only build self-esteem with a fresh new haircut, but also learn and practice reading skills in a peer filled environment. We achieve this by using relatable role-model and mentors including barbers, fathers, and teens.
Line4Line builds community from within. Over the past six years LINE4LINE has provided over 3000 free haircuts, placed over 4500 books into homes, kept stocked with gently used books, an onsite 24/7 accessible Little Free Library, place books in the barbershop for all level readers, including a Barbershop Bookshelf with classic titles that kids love. In 2018 Line4Line made its Library of Diverse books accessible as a community lending library and in 2019 we completed renovations on the Backspace, a dedicated program space within the barbershop complex which houses our Library, a cozy ready room, and a workshop/studio space for out-of-school time, summer and weekend programs. In addition to our monthly free haircut for reading program on site, we also bring this program into our area Public Schools six times annually, participate in community outreach events, and established a vibrant back to school give away.
In 2019 program founder O’Neil Curtis was awarded the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Louisiana’s Angel Award for his work with Line4Line. Funds from this award were used to complete much needed renovations to our program space. In 2020, Line4Line further expanded programs to include drop in Saturday workshops, a free summer camp, teen work and mentor development and intensive small-group reading support programs. For School Year 2020/21 Line4Line is positioned to serve the ever changing needs of our community’s students and families throughout Covid-19. Now more than ever our work is essential.