Community

Browns' donation goes a long way toward putting more books in hands of Cleveland youths

Browns 'Get 2 School' Network and First Lady Fran DeWine visited East Cleveland City School District's Superior Elementary to announce support of Ohio Governor's Imagination Library

Kendall Lamm pulled out one of his favorite books Monday and smiled.

The numerous faces in front of him at East Cleveland's Superior Elementary did the same as the Browns offensive lineman flipped through the pages of Eric Carle's "The Very Hungry Caterpillar."

Thanks to the Ohio Governor's Imagination Library, those kids will be able to do this on their own with a new book each month for years to come. And on Monday, that effort got a significant boost as the Browns, through the "Get 2 School, Stay in the Game!" Network, presented a $135,000 matching donation today to support funding of the Ohio Governor's Imagination Library in the East Cleveland City School District during a celebration of Tackle Reading Across America Day.

"I can remember being 4 and 5 and being excited to read and learning how to read," Lamm said. "'The Hungry Caterpillar' was one of my favorites and it comes full circle when I sit down and read the books with them. Reading is essential. It's one of the building blocks for the rest of your life.

"I learned these skills at a very early age. These skills go hand in hand with what we do with everyday life and it's a major thing. It's one thing for them to see us on TV. To see us like this without the helmet and to show them it's very important, you've got to do that. I think it really sets the tone and has an impact on them."

Lamm wasn't alone, as Browns Executive Vice President JW Johnson and Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine shared some of their favorite children's books with Superior Elementary School's pre-K students to emphasize the importance of reading and literacy.

In partnership with Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, the Ohio Governor's Imagination Library's mission is to put more books in the hands of Ohio children to ensure every student enters kindergarten ready to succeed. Caregivers can enroll kids from birth to age five to receive a new book each month by registering through ohioimaginationlibrary.org.

"We're talking about reading and we really want to get these kids to read," DeWine said. "The Imagination Library puts a book in the home for every child every month for the time they're born until they turn 5 years old. This can make a huge difference in their lives. This, with keeping kids in school, will be a great starting point for these kids."

Through the "Get 2 School" Network, the Browns encourage students to get to school every day so that they can succeed in the classroom and prepare for the future. Studies show that young students who are in class each day ready to learn are twice as likely to be reading on or above their respective grade level by third grade.

 The Cleveland Browns Foundation, in partnership with the Ohio Department of Education and Harvard University's Proving Ground, comprise the "Get 2 School" Network. The group collaborates with districts across the state to raise awareness and remove barriers associated with chronic absenteeism, which is defined as students missing 10 percent of the school year for any reason. For more information about the "Get 2 School" Network, visit Get2School.org.

"I think it's great to see the smiles on these kids' faces and Superior Elementary has done a great job," Johnson said. "A lot of these kids are not as fortunate as some other people. The fact they get to see a guy like Kendall Lamm and other people involved, taking a lot of pictures and TV cameras, it's a big deal and super exciting for them. 

"We need to do more of this. I know the Browns family and the state will continue to be super engaged in this program."

About the Cleveland Browns and Browns Give Back:

The Browns Give Back to Northeast Ohio with a commitment to education and youth football while engaging the community through the team's signature First and Ten volunteer movement. For more information, visit www.clevelandbrowns.com/brownsgiveback

Education – The Cleveland Browns are dedicated to improving the quality of education for students in Ohio by making investments that keep kids in school every day so they can succeed, highlighted by the "Get 2 School, Stay in the Game!" Network. The "Get 2 School" Network is a statewide initiative designed to promote the importance of school attendance and put an end to chronic absenteeism. The team engages local schools and promotes quality education by using attendance data and feedback from families to build a school-going culture, uncover and reduce common barriers to attendance and support engagement opportunities for students to thrive. To learn more, visit Get2School.org.

Youth Football – The Cleveland Browns are committed to assisting the development, safety and growth of youth and high school football throughout Northeast Ohio with year-round programming for players, coaches, officials and parents. Through camps, clinics and other initiatives, the Browns' goal is to promote healthy, social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of youth by enhancing opportunities for youth football participation and education.

First and Ten – Launched in June 2014, the Cleveland Browns First and Ten campaign is the team's community program, established to inspire fans to #give10 and help their communities by volunteering for 10 hours each year. Through First and Ten, the Browns are the only NFL club to promote a long-term volunteering program that unifies the team and its entire fan base, with the goal of impacting every individual's city across the globe, as well as the franchise's local community. To date, more than 2 million hours of volunteering have been pledged through First and Ten. All Browns fans are encouraged to join the volunteering effort by signing the First and Ten pledge on the team's website and by sharing their stories with #give10.

About the Ohio Governor's Imagination Library:

The Ohio Governor's Imagination Library was inspired by Ohio First Lady Fran DeWine's passion to improve the lives of Ohio's children. First Lady DeWine first learned about Dolly Parton's Imagination Library through her grandchildren's participation in the program at their local library in Greene County, Ohio. She saw the impact these books had on her own family and community and wanted every child across Ohio to have the same opportunities.

About Tackle Reading:

Tackle Reading is a book movement fusing the love and importance of literacy among youth with a passion for football. Held each March to celebrate Read Across America Day and National Reading Month, NFL teams, athletes, coaches and alumni across the country spend the day reading to local elementary schools.

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