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Ferguson Superintendent Reaches Out to Celebrities to Fund Million Dollar Reading Initiative

Ferguson, Missouri, superintendent Dr. Joseph Davis accepted the job of leading the Ferguson-Florissant School District in Missouri last year after deciding to make a difference in the community following the national coverage of the 2014 shooting death of teenager Michael Brown.

In order to do so, Davis is spearheading a reading initiative that will provide important tools such as literacy training for teachers and digital readers for students in the districts’ 24 schools.

He has sent letters to 170 celebrities hoping to raise funding for the $2 million projects; he is encouraging celebrities who spoke about the tension in Ferguson in the past to help strengthen the community through this endeavor.

"The celebrities include Missouri natives such as Don Cheadle, Jon Hamm, Sheryl Crow, Matt Bomer, John Goodman, Akon, and Misty Copeland, as well as notable figures who spoke out on social media about events in Ferguson, including Katy Perry, Magic Johnson, Lena Dunham, Pharrell Williams, Rihanna, Kerry Washington, and Chris Rock,” said the Ferguson-Floirssant School District in a statement.

After the decision to not indict Officer Darren Wilson on murder charges after he shot Brown to death, celebrities took to social media to lament the decision and encourage equality.

Katy Perry, for example, said: “Seeing the news just now … Sending my prayers to Ferguson & praying for an equal America.”

Davis is hoping that celebrities will look at his reading initiative as their chance to act now.

The Ferguson-Florissant school district serves 11,000 students- 76 percent who live under the poverty level.

“I ... believe that to be successful in school and in life, every student must develop a deep love of reading. My own experiences growing up as a Black child in the South – and today as a parent and an educator – have taught me unequivocally that reading is the key to a bright future,” Davis said in his letter.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

4/11/2016

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