The 2012 C Spire Foundation Winter-Reed Partnership Award was presented to Jim and Claiborne Barksdale, Mississippi businessmen whose visionary leadership and philanthropy have strengthened early-childhood literacy and public education.
In 2000, they gifted $100 million to the State of Mississippi to establish The Barksdale Reading Institute in Oxford, Miss. The joint venture with the Mississippi Department of Education and the state’s public universities strives to improve reading skills among Mississippi children from birth to third grade.
The generosity of the Barksdale family has facilitated essential partnerships among the State Department of Education, Mississippi public schools and the state’s public universities to implement systemic reform in reading instruction. These partnerships continue to provide a seamless educational focus from teacher preparation programs to pre-K and public school classrooms designed to dramatically improve the reading skills of Mississippi schoolchildren.