The co-founders of The Conscious Connect, Inc. Karlos L. Marshall and Moses B. Mbeseha stand with children and community members at a reading park they created on Woodward Avenue in Springfield. CONTRIBUTED.

Springfield pair recognized by Forbes for work with literacy

Karlos L. Marshall and Moses B. Mbeseha are only 27-years-old, but they’ve already accomplished something only a select few people have.

The co-founders of The Conscious Connect, Inc. were recently named to Forbes ‘30 under 30’ Class of 2019 list for their work in education. The Springfield-based organization’s mission is to eliminate book deserts in the Springfield-Dayton area — those are areas without access to high-quality and affordable books.

The Conscious Connect has distributed over 30,000 books in just under three years to some low-income areas where there may be only one book for every 300 children.

RELATED: Springfield literacy group gets $15K grant to elminate book deserts

Out of 15,000 nominees across the United States and Canada, only 600 were selected for their work in 20 respective categories.

“I think it’s all still being digested to be honest,” said Marshall. “This is an extremely humbling award, but I think it’s one in which the entire community should be proud of because we certainly didn’t arrive here on our own.”

The Conscious Connect just recently dedicated their second reading park on Linden Avenue in Springfield on Nov. 17. The organization has been working with the Clark County Land Bank this year to return blighted properties to a more constructive use.

Marshall said the reading park, which consists of a ‘little library’ with dozens of books inside, a bench and greenery — was actually the site of his mother’s childhood friend’s home.

As a Springfield High School and Wittenberg University graduate, he’s able to see full-circle how the work the organization does directly impacts the city.

“I truly see the work that our organization is doing as part of my social responsibility and civic duty (to give) back to the community that helped raise me,” Marshall said.

The other co-founder of The Conscious Connect, Moses Mbeseha, also a Wittenberg grad, said the award just gives him more fuel to continue what the organization has started.

MORE COVERAGE: Organization giving schools around Springfield new ways to read

To date, The Conscious Connect has created more than 100 literary access points in the area — putting books in barbershops, hair salons and schools.

He hopes the organization can aim for bigger goals like creating long-term change in the neighborhoods they focus on.

“It’s a great responsibility that comes with being selected to the Class of 2019; so to me it means to continue to work as tirelessly as possible to meet the mission of The Conscious Connect.”

Marshall said he’s excited that their recognition puts Springfield, Ohio on a map for people.

“We want people to know globally that if given the opportunity, Springfield has this change agency as well that you will see out there on the east coast or the west coast,” he said. “It can happen in your hometown.”

Marshall and Mbeseha were unable to attend a ceremony in New York recognizing the honor, but now that the two have been selected to the Forbes list, they will be invited to attend future ‘Forbes 30 under 30’ summits, including some in other countries.

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