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MU Students Promote Literacy, Cultural Pride in Local Schools

February 20th, 2012

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The University of Missouri Association for Black Graduate and Professional Students (ABGPS) is promoting literacy and ethnic pride during the 2012 Black History Month through its second annual reading program. ABGPS members will kick off the initiative by reading to children in their classrooms. District teachers also will read ethnic pride-themed books to their classes throughout February.

Anthony James, ABGPS president and graduate student in the MU Department of Human Development and Family Studies, hopes this effort will result in increased interest in reading among children, and an increase in their academic achievements as well.

“This program truly is scholarship in action and a real way that our members can give back to the community,” James said. “From research, we know the importance of reading. Children who read well often typically do better in school than those that do not.  If we can lend some of our time, especially during the month that we celebrate African-American heritage, to inspire kids to read more, then it is well worth the time.”

 James says the ABGPS also wants to contribute to the overarching theme of the month by providing kids of all color, creeds and backgrounds with tangible examples of success. 

“We hope that our interactions with the students can inspire them in a way that they too want to pursue higher education in a field of their choice,” James said.

The program, which is a collaboration between the MU ABGPS and Columbia Public Schools, will take place in eight Columbia elementary schools during this year’s Black History Month. The Columbia Public School system has bought age-appropriate books for the participating classrooms. The student volunteers will read these books to the children, and the children will have continued access to copies of the books at the schools’ libraries.

James hopes that this program will lead to other groups taking an active role in the community to help kids succeed.  Currently, ABGPS is in talks to bring kids to campus in a continued pursuit of its goal to inspire kids to excel in school.