Joint Effort by Poudre School District and Colorado State University Sends Thousands of Textbooks to Belize

A cooperative effort by Poudre School District and Colorado State University will send more than 45,000 pounds of textbooks to elementary and secondary-school students in Belize.

Through the project, Poudre School District recycled its textbooks, Colorado State coordinated shipping of the books and a Colorado State student group along with area high-school students volunteered to load the books for transport. "In Poudre School District, we do everything we can to either sell our used books, donate them to third-world countries that desperately need them, or recycle those that are unusable" said Lynda Allen, Poudre School District textbook coordinator.

"Coordination is the key," said Judy MacDonald, director of media and technology services at Poudre School District. "It takes coordination and a willingness to tackle the problem. The adoption of new content standards mandated by the state of Colorado caused us to speed up our textbook purchasing in some key curriculum areas. We simply weren’t going to throw away all the outdated textbooks, and I’m pleased that these partnerships with both private and public organizations worked out to ‘rescue’ these books."

Keith Miser, vice president for student affairs at Colorado State, serves as the United States chairman for the Consortium for Belize Educational Cooperation, an organization that promotes the exchange of students, faculty, information and resources between Belize and the United States. Miser worked with the Ministry of Education in Belize, Poudre School District, and the student group "Books for Development" to coordinate the project and to arrange for the ministry to pay for shipment of books.

"Belize has a shortage of books," Miser said. "When Poudre School District updated its elementary and secondary-school textbooks, the resources matched the need, and everyone worked together to bring about a very positive result in this unusual project."

"In Belize, students do not pay tuition, but they are required to buy their own books," said Andrea West, a Colorado State student from Belize. "Not many books are published in Belize, and books are very expensive. For the average family that might pay $50 for each one of their children’s textbooks, this shipment will be a tremendous help. This is a rare gift, and the coordination involved to make it successful has been a tremendous accomplishment."

Three years ago, a Colorado State student group, the "Overseas Development Network," worked to bring 25,000 college textbooks to libraries in Belize.

Belize, a country of about 300,000 people, is the only country in Central America with English as the official language. The country lies along the East Coast of Central America, with Mexico to the north, Guatemala to the west and south, and the Caribbean Sea to the east. The multicultural population includes a mixture of Creole, Garifuna, Mestizo, Spanish, Maya, English, Mennonite, Lebanese, Chinese and Eastern Indian.