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NCAA Team Works expands Readers Become Leaders program

Effort will focus on improving reading skills among third-graders

NCAA Team Works, the community engagement branch of the NCAA, will expand the Readers Become Leaders program by partnering with Indianapolis television station WISH-TV to host a regional competition that promotes reading among third-graders.

The competition, which also will involve WISH-TV’s I Love to Read program, will begin Nov. 27 and  impact an estimated 10,000 elementary students in the Indianapolis area. The competition will focus on encouraging third-grade students to read more books in class. Classrooms will advance in the competition based on the average number of minutes they log each week. Classes also will receive incentives to read, such as tickets to local NCAA games and events, throughout the competition. The champion classroom that logs the most minutes of reading will be announced at a special assembly in March 2018 and will receive a grand prize.

“We are extremely excited about our partnership with WISH-TV and supporting teachers in their efforts to promote reading,” said Victor Hill, associate director of NCAA Team Works Community Programs. “We want to do as much as possible to assist the schools with their efforts to provide these children with the best education possible. We really want to get the message out to the parents and other adults about the importance of reading every day at this crucial age and grade level.”

The NCAA Readers Become Leaders Program aims to help teachers who are dealing with a literacy crisis that affects children of all demographics. Educational data have shown that if reading is below grade level by the fourth grade, students are four times more likely to drop out of school. Readers Become Leaders was created to encourage children to explore their talents, which lays a foundation for future educational goals, such as attending college.

Readers Become Leaders has established partnerships with Butler, IUPUI and UIndy, as well as local school districts in Lawrence Township, Warren Township, Pike Township and Indianapolis Public Schools. The reading competition will include elementary schools in the Lawrence, Warren and Pike townships and Indianapolis Public Schools, and also will branch to other elementary schools in the WISH-TV viewing area.

Last year, Butler, IUPUI and UIndy worked with local elementary schools to host various events, such as literacy drives, book distributions and special recognitions at college sporting events to encourage third-graders to read more. NCAA Team Works also has taken Readers Become Leaders to school systems in cities that host NCAA championships, reaching more than 100,000 youth through general reading programs over the last four years.

WISH-TV has hosted reading challenges throughout central Indiana through its I Love to Read Program. The challenges focus on developing good reading skills, which contribute to learning and success in education. Similar to Readers Become Leaders, WISH-TV I Love to Read challenges also encourage students to read more books daily and provide fun activities as incentives.