Authored by Melanie Boyer onJune 10, 2019
Posted In:Press Room
Long’s brother and Super Bowl champion, Chris Long, is matching Long’s donation to maximize impact
CHICAGO (June 10, 2019)— Three-time Pro-Bowler and Chicago Bear Kyle Long, in partnership with First Book, is sending thousands of Chicago kids in need home with brand-new books this week as part of the Chris Long Foundation’s “First Quarter for Literacy” campaign. “First Quarter for Literacy” is an initiative designed to get books to children in underserved neighborhoods, and encourage family engagement with reading. Kyle is donating $25,000 as part of the effort to support early childhood literacy for Chicago area students. Super Bowl champion Chris Long, who helms the foundation—and is also Kyle’s brother—is matching the donation from the offensive lineman, making for a donation of more than 12,000 books to over 2,400 kids.
“It’s a priority of mine to invest in Chicago kids, especially in the most underserved areas, and one of the best ways to do that is through reading resources,” says Kyle. “I am excited to partner with my brother’s foundation and First Book to ensure thousands of Chicago kids have books of their own to take home during the vital summer months.”
Teachers across the city will host “unboxing events” all week in their classrooms and programs to share books with students and celebrate the importance and joy of reading. Each child will start the summer with 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. “Kyle Long, 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 Kyle’s donation, and to Chris for matching it.”
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 Kyle Long
Offensive lineman Kyle Long joined the Chicago Bears as the 20th overall pick of the 2013 NFL draft. Son of Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, Kyle grew up playing both baseball and football. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 23rd round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft, but chose not to sign and honored his commitment to play baseball at Florida State University. In 2010, Kyle returned to playing football at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA. He committed to play for the Oregon Ducks football team in 2011 and transferred to the University of Oregon where he would end up completing his college football career. Since being drafted by the Chicago Bears in 2013, Kyle became the first team offensive lineman to be named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three professional football seasons.
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: 185 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:
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.
 Susan B. Neuman, Naomi Moland. “Book Deserts.” Urban Education, 2016. DOI: 10.1177/0042085916654525