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Illinois

Gates Foundation Exec Keynotes Peoria Public Schools Foundation Breakfast

Dr. Marquita Furness Davis speaks Thursday at the Peoria Public Schools 365 Breakfast at Woodruff Career and Technical Center.
Dr. Marquita Furness Davis speaks Thursday at the Peoria Public Schools 365 Breakfast at Woodruff Career and Technical Center.

It was a homecoming of sorts Thursday for Dr. Marquita Furness Davis. 

She's a Manual High School grad who now works as the deputy director of early learning for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Davis was the keynote speaker for this year's Peoria Public Schools 365 Breakfast. She says coming from Peoria helped her become the person she is today.

"You learn a lot of life lessons along the way. And I think that having a good foundation, coming from a community that gives you a good foundation, prepares you to be resilient, prepares you to take risks and gives you courage to do things that probably you wouldn't want to do or think you could do," she said. 

Through her connections, Davis helped Peoria Public Schools link up with the BARR Center, an exclusive program which seeks to improve the graduation rates of black, Latinx, and low-income students.

"Public education is a civil rights issue," she said. "It's the right of every child to have a quality public education experience. And I believe the Peoria Public Schools system can provide that." 

Manual, Peoria High, and Richwoods are involved in the BARR program. 

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