MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Project La Resolana is an intercultural grassroots organization that expands educational opportunities by directly matching young people with representative literature as an explorative lens in the K-16 classroom and beyond.

Kassandra “Kassie” Colón is the Founder and Executive Director of Project La Resolana, a community-based grassroots organization that directly matches young people across the nation with literature on topics they want to learn more about.

Colón was awarded a full-tuition debate scholarship to compete on West Virginia University’s Policy debate team. They then/still do serve as an Assistant Debate Coach, where they teach undergraduate students’ argumentation and advocacy.

“For me, all roads lead to Policy Debate. At 15 years old, the activity introduced me to critical literature as a lens for exploring the intersections of race, gender, class, sexuality, and (dis)ability, which taught me how to challenge the status quo,” Colón explained. “My early exposure to this literature led to a bigger question, “how do students—those without debate spaces that argumentatively interrogate and reimagine the world we know—get access to literature that encompasses the diverse stories typically not represented in literary canons.”

Project La Resolana is currently in the process of establishing student-led chapters at WVU, University of Southern California, University of Chicago, and South Florida to expand Project La Resolana and get more young people involved in our mission. “Almost all of our student organizers have participated in Speech & Debate at some point in their lives and a majority of them have a stronger connection to their identity because of the activity,” said Colón.

“When students only learn about mainstream white narratives of American progress, it means they are less likely to be accepting of different cultures, beliefs, and identities,” Colón said. Especially those students from marginalized communities. Some will never learn about their ancestors until they enter higher education—that is, if they are given the opportunity to.”

Colón explained that students should have access to representative literature regardless of where they are. “Research shows that students who have less access to literature or spaces that promote open exploration are more likely to have lower literacy rates,” Colón explained. “Project La Resolana keeps in mind those barriers and while closing literacy gaps is not at the core of our mission, understanding these conditions allows us to match literature that is representative of student interests in hopes they pick up a book and never put it down!”

Before matching students with books, Project La Resolana has them fill out a survey to indicate what they want to learn. Then, the surveys are used as a foundation before books are pulled to be taken to the classroom.

Project La Resolana’s mission statement works in the K-16 classroom because representative literature and curriculum should exist beyond high school. “Representative instruction shouldn’t stop once you graduate high school, higher education must also be held accountable in creating spaces that encompass students’ lived experiences and ancestral histories,” said Colón.