MEMPHIS, TN (News release) -- Amid unparalleled educational challenges brought on by COVID-19, Memphis-based International Paper has renewed its commitment to fighting childhood illiteracy, joining Coaching for Literacy as its signature partner for the sixth straight year. The partnership directs more than $300,000 annually in funding through Coaching for Literacy's Fight for Literacy campaign, and includes gifts in 20 communities of at least $10,000 to support local literacy initiatives. In each of these 20 communities, IP will match donations up to $5,000.
"In 2021, a Stanford study revealed that second and third-graders were about 30% behind where they should have been in reading after the pandemic school interruptions, and that's tragic when, already, two out of every three third graders weren't reading on grade level," said Jason Baker, Co-Executive Director at Coaching for Literacy. "Educators and organizations like ours are working hard to help students overcome those missed learning opportunities, and partners like International Paper truly help provide the tools needed to win this fight."
Through its partnership, International Paper is recognized as a presenting sponsor at every Fight for Literacy game, through which Coaching for Literacy partners with sports organizations (most notably college basketball teams) to raise awareness and funds to fight illiteracy. Funds raised through the games are granted to local partners to support literacy for students in kindergarten through third grade. In prior years, grants have funded tutoring programs, summer learning camps, and the purchase of age-appropriate reading materials for classrooms and students in need.
"Literacy is the foundation of all education, and improving it is how we will prepare tomorrow's leaders," said Dr. Alissa Campbell Shaw, senior manager, Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Engagement, International Paper. "Partnering with Coaching for Literacy allows us to impact tens of thousands of students and numerous organizations in communities across the United States. We are committed to this partnership and heartened by the difference we can make in the Fight for Literacy."
Over the past six years, through its partnership with Coaching for Literacy, International Paper has directly provided more than $800,000 in grant funding to 40 literacy organizations in more than a dozen states. This season, Coaching for Literacy has more than 43 Fight for Literacy games scheduled, with additional games and athletic partners in the works for the year.