It’s so easy to root for players on the Philadelphia Eagles because they are such great people off the field, too. Malcolm Jenkins is set to receive the Key to the City of Camden on Monday, and now Chris Long is once again putting his money where his mouth is.
As if donating his entire salary in 2017 wasn’t enough — it was — Long has now pledged a quarter of his 2018 paychecks to the “First Quarter for Literacy” drive.
The Chris Long Foundation, in partnership with United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ) and in support of Philadelphia’s Read By 4th campaign (RB4), is setting its focus on the literacy of young children.
The new initiative will work to put more books in the hands of kids in underserved neighborhoods, and to get parents and caregivers excited about raising readers.
“We are excited to continue our commitment to education this year through the First Quarter for Literacy drive,” says Long. “We are partnering with United Way and Read by 4th, not only to support their incredible efforts to get kids reading on grade level but also to amplify the message about the importance of early childhood literacy while encouraging others to join the effort. The more books we can get in kids’ hands, the more kids have a greater chance of finishing high school, which means greater long-term success.”
This became an important mission for Chris Long and his wife Megan, who wanted to help address the documented connection specifically between fourth grade reading proficiency and long-term academic success.
The impact will be on both the local and national level.
On the local level, the Longs will distribute more than 25,000 books in underserved neighborhoods around Philadelphia, creating at-home libraries and six Chris Long Book Nooks for families to go somewhere together to read.
Outside of Philadelphia, “First Quarter for Literacy” will support reading proficiency programs in Chris Long’s homestate of Virginia and he’ll match donations up to $25,000 from any player on an opposing road team this year that wants to distribute books in their community.
Former Eagle and lifelong Chris Long brethren, Beau Allen, was the first player to participate in the matching portion of the drive, with a $5,000 donation in Week 2. The Chris Long Donation will match that, and $10,000 worth of books will be distributed in Tampa Bay.
“Megan and I read to our son every day, and we can’t stand the thought that there are kids right here in Philadelphia and nationwide that don’t have books at home,” says Long. “Our goal since last year 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.”
Families and Eagles fans can get involved and support the “First Quarter for Literacy” drive by visiting FirstQuarterForLiteracy.org for top reading tips, ways to donate books, and more.
All books distributed through the drive will include a bookplate with tips for parents on reading habits and developmental milestones.
UPDATE: Fletcher Cox may not be an opposing player, but he did get in on the charitable action, pledging $10,000 to be matched for books in his home state of Mississippi.
Joining @joel9one #FirstQuarterForLiteracy campaign I’m giving $10k to provide books in my home state of Mississippi With Chris match that is $20k and 5,000 books to kids in rural Mississippi Join the effort to help us get more books to kids. Donate now https://t.co/xmiXy9xeLm— fletcher cox (@fcoxx_91) September 28, 2018