CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — The “Black Men Read” Program has kicked off in Jefferson County Schools.

It’s touted as a program to bring the excitement of reading to fourth-grade classrooms across the district.

Through April 25, community members, professional actors and storytellers, and other black male role models are reading to fourth-graders. In addition to providing supplemental literary education for fourth-grade students the program focuses on building relationships with supportive community members.

Every other week volunteers will read culturally competent stories to all fourth-graders. Students will even get to take a book home and later take a field trip to Shepherd University for a live performance of readings and stories.

The volunteer readers include community members from local businesses and organizations.

The Black Men Read program is a collaboration between the Jefferson County Schools (JCS) Cultural Unity and Equity Department (CUE), The Black Teachers Association of Jefferson County, Shepherd University’s Contemporary Theater Studies faculty and students, and the Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF) theater artists. CATF Producing Artistic Director Peggy McKowen said Black Men Read is made possible by a two-year grant. The Rural Arts Collaborative, which is supported by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and Fayette County Cultural Trust, supports the program.