The Fuller Cut’s “Read to a Barber” program makes the ABC Evening News

While I really loved Jennifer Guerra’s piece for National Public Radio this past October about the “Read to a Barber” program at The Fuller Cut, there’s nothing like seeing our local barbers on network television, talking about what they’ve been doing to encouraging Ypsilanti’s kids to read… If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the video from ABC News, followed by an excerpt from the accompanying story.

The children who visit one particular barbershop in Michigan get more than just fresh cuts when they visit; if they want to, they can receive lessons in reading, in African-American history and in self-confidence.

For a year, the Fuller Cut barbershop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, outside of Ann Arbor, has been offering a Read to a Barber program. The deal is simple: The child reads to the barber and he gets $2 off his cut. The catch: He also has to explain what he’s read and answer some questions from the barber or his caretaker.

“It really has taken off, better than expected,” said Fuller Cut owner Alex Fuller. “It’s hard to explain when you see these kids reading, learning about, you know, African-American heroes, and just seeing their faces light up — and I think the money’s a good incentive too.”

Fuller, born and raised in Ypsilanti, has owned Fuller Cut since 2002. It was Ryan Griffin, another barber at the shop, who came to Fuller with the idea. Griffin said that he’d gotten inspired after reading about some barbers doing a similar program in Harlem, New York; Tampa, Florida; and Iowa.

“The first thing that came to my head was, ‘That’s responsible!’ …I just realized that was so responsible,” Griffin said. “That’s how a barbershop can become a pillar of the community.”

He said the idea seemed like an easy task to pull off, so he brought it to Fuller, whose reaction was, “Let’s get some bookshelves!”

“I went down to the thrift store, found two shelves, two shelves for $10 bucks, spray-painted them, you know. Got my wife involved. She was excited. She made some posters and the kids, it’s just been great,” Fuller said…

How incredibly cool is that?

[The Fuller Cut is located at 307 Ecorse Road, in Ypsilanti, Michigan.]

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  1. Kenneth
    Posted April 3, 2017 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    The last time Ypdi made the national news was when the guy severed his penis climbing through the smashed window of an abandoned school. I’d say this is an improvement.

  2. verifyfirst
    Posted April 3, 2017 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Thanks. I know you are busy, but we could use more Ypsi news, especially since we seem to have lost the stringer (Tom Perkins was his name) who provided the only substantive Ypsi news on Mlive. Any idea what happened to him?

    You might also want to add Naked Capitalism to your blog roll–really astute site, and the daily links–to all sorts of fascinating topics–are amazing.

  3. Eel
    Posted April 3, 2017 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    I like the idea of literacy as currency. It would be awesome if you could read books for food, gas, and other necessities.

  4. anonymous
    Posted April 3, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I can’t think if any of other industries where this might work. Where else do kids still still with adults? While they’re being measured for shoes? At the doctors office? It doesn’t work as well there though.

  5. XXX
    Posted April 3, 2017 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I thought the currency of choice in Ypsi was soiled mattresses.

  6. City Watch
    Posted April 4, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Today I sent a thank you card and a 2 dollar bill to:

    The Fuller Cut Barber Shop
    307 Ecorse Road
    Ypsilanti, Michigan 48198

    I challenge anyone that reads this to do the same! ❤️

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