Our club was pleased to welcome Julius B. Anthony as our featured speaker for our final club meeting of 2020.  
Julius is the president of the St. Louis Regional Literacy Association and the St. Louis Black Authors of Children's Literature.   He shared with us the mission and vision of the organization, described below.
MISSION: St. Louis Black Authors of Children’s Literature is committed to fostering awareness about the importance of early literacy by creating innovative opportunities for all kids to have access to Black children’s literature.

VISION: Ensuring all children become confident and competent readers by the end of third grade
There are eight school districts in metro St. Louis located in Promise Zone Neighborhoods and 90% of all Black children attend one of these schools.  As more than 70% of Black third graders in metro St. Louis fail annually in reading compared to 51% of all children in Missouri, Julius and his team are committed to improving this number as well as increasing the number of books in public and private school classrooms with Black protagonists (less than 6%).
The Believe Project is how they are making a difference in St. Louis.  By partnering with PBS, Scholastic, Ready Readers, and nineNetwork as well as Believe Schools and Community Centers, they have a program commitment of a 3 year cycle to engage young learners through various experiences.  So far, more than 1,500 students have been served at these sites and in 2019 approximately 2,500 students served in local literacy partnerships.  We ended the formal presentation with Julius sharing the Believe Pledge with us. 
We wish Julius the best as he works to continue the mission of this organization, and look forward to hearing of the positive impact it will have for our future leaders in the Black community.