Ashley Valentine

Ashley Valentine

Founder - Rooted MKE

About Ashley Valentine

Ashley Valentine, the visionary behind Rooted MKE, has created a unique space in Milwaukee that is much more than a bookstore. It’s a testament to her passion for literacy, advocacy, and enhancing educational outcomes for Black students. As a former special education teacher in the Milwaukee Public Schools and a leader in STEM programming for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Ashley’s professional journey reflects a deep commitment to education and community service.

The inception of Rooted MKE, a children’s bookstore and learning center, stems from Ashley’s realization during her graduate studies that she could make a greater impact outside the traditional classroom setting. Her exploration into the role of literacy in the community led to the formation of Rooted MKE, a place where children can see themselves represented in the books they read and where literacy is celebrated and nurtured.

Ashley’s journey included challenges, such as securing funding and navigating the logistics of setting up a bookstore. However, her determination and clear vision for a community-focused literacy center were unwavering. Rooted MKE is not just a bookstore; it’s a tutoring space and a hub for community engagement, focused on featuring and celebrating BIPOC characters and narratives. This mission-driven approach is designed to foster a strong sense of identity and pride in Black and brown children.

Moreover, Ashley’s dedication to addressing the educational disparities faced by urban children, especially in reading levels, is evident in the incorporation of tutoring services at Rooted MKE. This aligns with her belief in the power of books and literacy to transform lives, particularly for those who are underrepresented in mainstream literature.

Rooted MKE, as its name suggests, is deeply rooted in the community. It’s a place that not only sells books but also builds confidence, nurtures talent, and encourages children to embrace their identity and history. Ashley Valentine’s role as the founder and leader of this mission-based business highlights her commitment to literacy, representation, and educational equity, making a lasting impact on Milwaukee’s youth and the broader community.