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Thursday, April 07, 2016

Ferguson, Missouri Schools Superintendent reaches out to celebrities to support reading initiative

Ferguson, Missouri Schools Superintendent reaches out to celebrities to support reading initiative

Dr. Joseph Davis seeks contributions from some of the biggest names in film, television, music, and sports

FERGUSON, Mo., April 7, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Dr. Joseph Davis watched news coverage of Ferguson, Missouri, following the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown, and decided to be part of the solution. Dr. Davis, then Superintendent of a small school district in North Carolina, applied to be Superintendent of the Ferguson-Florissant Schools outside St. Louis, because he believed improving schools is the most powerful way to strengthen a community in crisis. Last year, he accepted the job and moved to Ferguson with his wife and son.

Today, Dr. Davis is reaching out to celebrities across the country - including some who were outspoken about the events in Ferguson - asking for their help.

Superintendent Davis has launched a $2 million campaign to promote reading among the more than 11,000 students in Ferguson-Florissant, where 80% of students are African-American, and about 76% live in poverty. Dr. Davis has sent letters to 170 of the biggest names in movies, television, music, and sports, requesting their personal and financial support.

"I believe that providing all children with a first-rate education is the single most powerful tool in eradicating bias and building community," Dr. Davis wrote in his letter. "I also 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."

The reading initiative will infuse Ferguson-Florissant's 24 schools with four important resources: classroom libraries of new books; e-readers and interactive software; intensive literacy training for teachers; and materials to engage parents and the community in reading with kids.

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.

"We believe this campaign can be a game-changer in our community," Dr. Davis wrote. "For all those who watched the events in Ferguson and said, 'I wish there were something I could do to help,' this is your chance."

Contact: Kevin Hampton, 314-506-9060,

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SOURCE Ferguson-Florissant School District

School District

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