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COLUMBIA, MO – As part of its 20th-anniversary celebration, the Columbia Public Schools Foundation (CPSF) announced a $20,000 grant for author visits and novels for all Columbia Public Schools middle schools.

The 20 for 20 grant was announced at Jefferson Middle School by Nischelle Turner, Jefferson Junior High alum and “Entertainment Tonight” correspondent, who was in Columbia to serve as the emcee for the Foundation’s 20th-anniversary event. Turner was joined by her former principal Nyle Klinginsmith as well as CPSF Board members and members of the Chamber of Commerce.

The “Author Visits and Novels to Engage Middle School Readers” grant supports literacy initiatives at the middle school level impacting nearly 4,000 students. The selected young adult novels – which include Jason Reynolds’ As Brave As You and Ghost, and K.A. Holt’s Rhyme Schemer, House Arrest and Red Moon Rising – will be available in novel and audio format at each of the six CPS middle schools.

“Because of CPSF’s support, our middle school students will have access to award-winning books and authors. This project simply could not occur without them. CPS Foundation really does invite us as teachers and our students to dream big,” said Anna Osborn, reading specialist at Jefferson Middle School.

In addition to supplying the novels, the grant provides for in-person author visits from both Reynolds and Holt at each middle school. “In the spring, when the authors visit, we know students are going to be inspired by them,” said Osborn.“By bringing authors to campus, books come alive for readers in a whole new way. Students see themselves reflected in these artists.”

The authors grant is the perfect fit for the Foundation’s 20th anniversary year as it continues to seek new programs to support students and teachers. “We selected this grant first based on its originality,” said Sally Silvers, secretary of the CPSF Board of Directors. “The Foundation has never funded a grant in which famous authors visit and interact with students, especially after the students had read multiple books by the same author. This grant’s reach is also expansive since it impacts all middle schools and provides opportunities for multicultural programming as well.”

The Columbia Public Schools Foundation is a private foundation established by community volunteers dedicated to the enrichment of public education through community giving. The Foundation has funded projects in every school to enhance education in the Columbia Public Schools allocating more than $1 million to enhance education in the Columbia Public Schools. CPSF is celebrating 20 years of supporting teachers and students.

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