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Read to the Final Four Assembly Tips Off 2016 NCAA Women’s Final Four Community and Youth Initiatives

More than 900 third graders pledged to each read at least 30 books in advance of the 2016 NCAA Women’s Final Four in Indianapolis as part of the NCAA Team Works community initiative. The third graders took the pledge at an assembly at the Pike High School Performing Arts Center.

Team Works also distributed backpacks full of school supplies to the students several weeks ago as classes began. The backpack program, in its third year, is part of the Team Works initiative to encourage life-long learning and healthy living in Indianapolis and championship communities. Annual backpacking efforts are focused on the fact that students reading below grade level by the fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out than their peers. At the end of the 2015-16 academic year, more than 10,000 Team Works backpacks will have been distributed. In addition to the 3,000 backpacks spread throughout Indianapolis (host of the 2016 Women’s Final Four), 4,000 will go to Houston, Texas (host of the 2016 Men’s Final Four) and 2,000 to Washington, D.C. (host of several NCAA championships).

“Read to the Final Four aligns with the NCAA’s commitment to enhance community engagement and support the educational development of our youth,” said Victor Hill, NCAA associate director of championships community programs. “We are devoted to the success of this program and are excited to distribute backpacks full of school supplies to third graders to help spur on their success. The opportunity to use the Women’s Final Four in Indianapolis as a vehicle to drive and promote the values of reading is truly exciting.”

Students who successfully complete the program will be rewarded with an invitation to NCAA Women’s Final Four events, including tickets to the games. Pike Superintendent Nathaniel Jones developed the reward program and asked the students to pledge to take on a year-long reading challenge as part of the assembly.

The NCAA Women’s Final Four returns to Indianapolis for the third time (2005 and 2011) and will be part of a 35th anniversary celebration of the NCAA women’s game, with all three divisions crowning a national champion at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.  The Division I national semifinals will be played Sunday, April 3, with the national championship games for Divisions II and III following on Monday, April 4, and the Division I national championship game on Tuesday, April 5. Women’s Final Four Weekend will include a number of community and youth initiatives as well as fan events. More information will be available in the coming weeks.