ATLANTA – The most significant challenge facing the Atlanta Public School System is about to get the help it so desperately needs.
Today, Peach Bowl, Inc. – through the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl’s relationship with the College Football Playoff – and the College Football Playoff (CFP) Foundation jointly announced a partnership with Atlanta Public Schools (APS). The partnership will result in the funding of a $1 million initiative to improve early childhood literacy among kindergarten through fifth grade students. The collaborative effort integrates with the CFP Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers program, which supports the teaching profession (grades K-12) across the country via direct provision of resources, teacher recognition and professional development training.
The grant supplied by Peach Bowl, Inc. and the CFP Foundation will allow APS to train more than 1,000 educators in a specialized curriculum and better equip them to teach reading to students during their critical early years. With the grant, APS will implement a district-wide training program for all kindergarten through fifth-grade teachers over a 2-3 year period. APS will oversee the use of the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach to reading instruction that focuses on teaching kids to read at the word level, make connections between sounds and letters and develop language skills.
“We have a passion to be involved and give back to our community, especially in education,” said Gary Stokan, CEO and president of Peach Bowl, Inc. and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. “So we went to APS and asked them what their biggest problem was. They told us our children were not reading at a sufficient level and that they desperately needed help. We told them we were in. We pledged our full support.”
Said Britton Banowsky, executive director of the College Football Playoff Foundation: “This is exactly the type of specific and thorough teacher training that can make a measurable and meaningful difference. This fits so well within the mission of our Extra Yard for Teachers program that we were emotionally moved by the potential of this program. We had to be involved and are thrilled to partner with Peach Bowl, Inc. in support of Atlanta teachers.”
Currently, more than one-third of APS second graders read below grade level and research shows that children who do not read proficiently by the end of the third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma. The goal of the grant is to ensure all teachers feel comfortable teaching foundational early learning literacy skills to students including phonemic awareness, vocabulary, phonics and fluency.
“We are so thankful for this support and what it will do for our teachers and students,” said Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria J. Carstarphen. “We know this significant and meaningful plan will give our teachers the right tools and is the essential first step to ensuring that our students are reading and writing on-level by the third grade. Our goal is to transform how literacy instruction is delivered in our schools to move the needle in a positive direction.”
For Peach Bowl, Inc., this represents a significant escalation to its already significant support of education within Atlanta Public Schools. Since 2007, the Bowl has operated an academic mentoring program in the APS high schools to help student-athletes improve grade point averages, prepare for college entrance exams and transition into college. The Bowl also operates a $5 million endowed scholarship program at 26 major universities to help provide college scholarships to Atlanta students. In total, Peach Bowl, Inc. has previously invested more than $6 million to help Atlanta students.
“We’ve been dedicated to supporting Atlanta Public Schools for more than eight years and this is a truly impactful way to grow our support to truly significant levels,” said Percy Vaughn, chairman of Peach Bowl, Inc. and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. “As college football’s most charitable bowl organization, we take our commitment to charity and scholarship very seriously. It’s a huge part of our mission in the Atlanta community and we are proud to partner with the College Football Playoff Foundation to benefit teachers and students in our home community.”
Peach Bowl, Inc. has distributed $21 million in charitable and scholarship contributions since 2002 through funds from the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game and Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge charity golf tournament.
Since its inception in 2013, Extra Yard for Teachers has funded more than $2.5 million in direct classroom need in CFP host cities and in communities designated by its conference partners. CFP licensed products have generated more than $7.5 million in direct classroom support nationally.
About Peach Bowl, Inc.:
Peach Bowl, Inc. operates the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, the ninth-oldest bowl game in the country and one of New Year’s Six Bowls selected to host the College Football Playoff. In 2014-15, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will hosted top nationally ranked teams as assigned by the College Football Playoff Selection Committee. In 2016, the Bowl will host its first College Football Playoff Semifinal (#1 Alabama vs. #4 Washington). The Bowl has earned a reputation as one of the most competitive bowls in the country, with 54 percent of its games being decided by a touchdown or less. Peach Bowl, Inc. has disbursed $150 million in team payouts over its 48-year history and has increased team payout every year since 1996. The Bowl also leads all other bowl game organizations in charitable and scholarship contributions, giving more than $21 million to organizations in need since 2002. Peach Bowl, Inc. also owns and manages the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Challenge charity golf tournament and The Dodd Trophy national coach of the year award. For more information, visit Chick-fil-APeachBowl.com or follow us on Twitter at @CFAPeachBowl and find us on Facebook at Facebook.com/ChickfilAPeachBowl.
About the College Football Playoff Foundation and Extra Yard for Teachers
The College Football Playoff (CFP) Foundation is the charitable arm of the College Football Playoff and supports education and teachers across the country. The CFP Foundation creates multiple partnerships to execute its initiatives and support positive educational outcomes. The Foundation’s primary philanthropic initiative, Extra Yard for Teachers (EYFT), elevates the teaching profession by inspiring and empowering quality teachers through the development and implementation of programs in three key focus areas: direct provision of resources, teacher recognition, and professional development training. To learn more about the CFP Foundation and Extra Yard for Teachers, visit www.collegefootballplayoff.com/foundation.
About Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 50,000 students across 98 learning sites. The district is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 87 schools, 17 charter schools and two citywide single-gender academies. For more information, visit www.atlantapublicschools.us, follow us on Twitter at @apsupdate and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AtlantaPublicSchools/ .