Building the community: brick by brick

Cherry Hill resident’s book inspired by her dad’s tragic death

Khadijah Butler is holding a book signing on April 22 from 1 to 4 p.m. in Voorhees to celebrate her new book and rasie awareness for her foundation. Butler created the Craig D Butler foundation three years ago in the honor of her late father who was murdered in an act of gun violence. Her book Brick by Brick: Laying the Foundation details her struggles and mourning, as well as how to build a foundation and business.

Husband. Father. Friend. Hero.

Those are the words that come to mind when Khadijah Butler describes her father Craig. She was just a small child in 1999, when he was shot to death while visiting a friend in West Philadelphia. 

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To honor the elder Butler and carry on his legacy, Khadijah started the Craig D. Butler Scholarship Foundation, which aids young adults from Philadelphia who are from under-served populations. Each year, the foundation seeks out future high-school graduates to offer financial support as they pursue college opportunities.

The scholarship has four qualifications for eligibility: Students must be residents of Philadelphia  or attend a Philadelphia high school when they apply, must be African American descent, should  have a scholastic average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale and must be entering a two- or four-year college/university as a full-time freshman in the fall of the year they earn the award

“(We) started the scholarship (three) years ago in my father’s name,” Khadijah said of Craig Butler, who was murdered by a14-year-old in 1999. “We started the scholarship to help an African American high-school student living in Philly.”
She also noted that she was inspired to write a book about her dad while being interviewed about the scholarship.

“The person who interviewed me (about the scholarship) was writing a book and said to me, ‘I think you should write a book,’” Khadijah recalled. “But I told him I’m not an author. If anything, I would do an e-book … 

“Long story short, it took a lot of hand-holding for me to start this (her book).”

Next month, she will host a signing of that book, Laying The Foundation: Brick by Brick, at the Vision Castle venue. It will bring local authors together and raise money for the scholarship foundation. All proceeds will go back to the foundation.

“When people ask me (about the scholarship), I try to be as transparent as possible in person and on the website …” Khadijah noted. “This does not go into my pocket. We offer two $1,000 awards for recipients, and the rest of the money we get goes to day-to-day costs of the foundation.”

Something Khadijah did not expect from writing her book was a newfound sense of closure from Craig’s death.

“I’m not gonna lie, there would be mornings I would wake very early. (It would be) very quiet outside (and) as I’m writing about it, it became a cathartic tool for me,” she explained. “On top of writing the book, I have been invited to these anti-violence events …

“ … While I was doing the book for me, people are healing, too.”

Butler was born and raised in Philadelphia but recently moved to Cherry Hill. It is her hope to grow the foundation, expand into New Jersey and help children in need throughout the local area.

“I think one of the reasons I wrote the book and held these events is to expand our visibility. One thing I can say is that we got a lot of applications from (students) out of state … We’re looking for straight-A (Philadelphia) students who, despite walking through a crime zone (every day), still have those aspirations for college.”

“I would love to help (places) like Camden, like Trenton,” Khadijah said. “We have had people at events ask me about expanding to places like Darby or Chester (Philadelphia suburbs). I’d love to, but it’s not cheap. The more donations we get I hope we can expand.”

To learn more about Khadijah’s book and the CDB foundation, visit the website at Laying The Foundation: Brick by Brick will be available for purchase at Vision Castle in Voorhees on Saturday, April 22, from 1 to 4 p.m..

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