Former Mizzou football coach Gary Pinkel’s foundation, GP Made, has provided $10,000 to purchase 2,600 books for disadvantaged first and second grade Columbia Public School (CPS) students.
CPS Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood praises Coach Pinkel and the Heart of Missouri United Way for the project, which is part of “Read Across Columbia.”
“We want our scholars to develop a love of reading, to where they can take a book, maybe get away from those (video game) playstations and the cartoons and cuddle up with a book and print and read. And begin to love reading,” Dr. Yearwood says.
The CPS superintendent spoke to reporters and to the community Thursday outside Columbia’s Parkade Elementary School, which is one of five schools receiving the books. CPS says the five schools have the lowest reading proficiency scores and the highest free-and-reduced lunch rates.
Dr. Yearwood says children need ten grade-level books in their home, to maintain grade-level reading.
Former Mizzou coach Pinkel was also on-hand for the event. He tells 939 the Eagle that one pillar of his foundation focuses on children from difficult and challenging backgrounds.
“The great thing about doing (this), we’re identifying who these kids are and now let’s step it up and give them these opportunities to learn to read and appreciate reading. And I just think it’s mammothly important,” Pinkel says.
Columbia Public Schools (CPS) says CPS’ English arts MAP scores demonstrate outcome disparities. CPS says 13 percent of African-American third-graders test proficient or advanced, while 55 percent of white students test proficient or advanced.
Heart of Missouri United Way President Andrew Grabau tells the Eagle that anyone can donate to United Way, to support the Read Across Columbia effort.