NFL stars Beau Allen, Andrew Whitworth, Fletcher Cox, and Connor Barwin provided donations, matched by Long, for books as part of the Chris Long Foundation’s “First Quarter for Literacy Week”
WASHINGTON and PHILADELPHIA (January 29, 2019)— Reigning Super Bowl champion Chris Long, the nonprofit social enterprise First Book, and four NFL players are distributing 27,600 brand new books into the hands of children across four cities this week. The Chris Long Foundation’s “First Quarter for Literacy Week” is an initiative designed to get books to children in underserved neighborhoods and encourage family engagement with reading. Fellow NFL stars Beau Allen of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Andrew Whitworth of the Los Angeles Rams, Fletcher Cox of the Philadelphia Eagles, and Connor Barwin of the New York Giants funded the book donations, with a matching donation from Long, in Tampa, Los Angeles, Mississippi, and New York respectively.
In the spirit of collective impact, Chris Long challenged fellow NFL players to donate to his First Quarter for Literacy initiative that launched in September 2018 and then matched each donation. First Book selected recipient educators from its network of more than 400,000 educators, prioritizing educators who opted-in to the initiative and who demonstrated greatest need for new books.
“My wife and I read to our sons every day, and we can’t stand the thought that there are kids that don’t have books at home,” says Long. “Our goal has been to do what we can to level the playing field for all kids through education. It is clear that ensuring kids are strong early readers by providing books and educating parents is where we can make a meaningful difference right away. We are thankful to have other players join our effort to help us impact more cities and more kids.”
This week, teachers in each city will host “unboxing events” in their classrooms to share books with students and celebrate the importance and joy of reading. Each child will go home with five brand new books from First Book’s curated, diverse book collection.
“Putting books into the hands of a child is one of the most effective ways to impact their academic trajectory and their future achievement,” said Kyle Zimmer, president, CEO, and co-founder of First Book. “The Chris Long Foundation and the First Quarter for Literacy initiative are giving so much more than books with this gift—they’re opening doors to opportunity and possibility. We are so grateful for this partnership.”
Books and resources are critical, but scarce, for kids in need. Access to adequate resources is one of the greatest contributors to educational inequality in the United States, but research has identified vast ‘book deserts’ concentrated in low-income communities across the U.S.—with one community having only a single book to be shared among as many as 830 children.
About First Book
First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. Through a sustainable, market-driven model, First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by making new, high-quality books and educational resources, including sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more, affordable to its member network of more than 400,000 registered educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more learning materials than any other program of its kind: 175 million books and educational resources, worth more than $1.5 billion, reaching more than 5 million children annually.
First Book also expands the breadth and depth of the education field through a family of social enterprises, including First Book Research & Insights, its proprietary research initiative, and the First Book Accelerator, which brings best-in-class research to the classroom via relevant, usable educator resources.
Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up at firstbook.org/omgbooks. For more information, please visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.
About First Quarter for Literacy
Chris Long and his wife Megan launched the First Quarter for Literacy drive in September 2018 by donating a quarter of his 2018 salary to increase early literacy for young children. The initiative is designed to:
- put more books into the hands of children in underserved neighborhoods,
- build excitement and awareness around the role parents and caregivers play in raising readers,
- call on fans and players to join in the effort by purchasing books to enable distribution to more kids.
The Longs chose to focus their education philanthropy this season on reading, more specifically by fourth grade to address the documented connection between 4th-grade reading proficiency to long-term academic success and high school graduation.
The First Quarter for Literacy drive had a Philadelphia based component as well as a national component. In Philadelphia, the Longs will distribute more than 25,000 books for children in underserved neighborhoods to build at-home libraries, as well as fund the creation of six Chris Long Book Nooks, that serve as neighborhood-based reading areas for families. Outside Philadelphia, First Quarter for Literacy will support reading proficiency programs in rural Virginia, Chris Long’s home state. The Longs offered a match donation up to $25,000 to any player that wants to donate funds to distribute books to underserved communities in their playing market.
With the Long family donation, fan, and player participation, First Quarter for Literacy raised over a half a million dollars for early childhood education.
About The Chris Long Foundation
The mission of The Chris Long Foundation is to support bright futures for communities and the individuals that make up those communities. At The Chris Long Foundation, we believe borders do not limit caring about our fellow neighbors. We engage in both international and domestic programs focused around clean water, military appreciation, and youth. Our programs strive to generate impactful results by creating opportunities and providing resources, financial support and meaningful experiences to those we serve. Visit www.chrislongfoundation.org to find out more about the foundation’s work.
 Source: Susan B. Neuman, Naomi Moland. “Book Deserts.” Urban Education, 2016. DOI: 10.1177/0042085916654525
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