While the year 2020 isn't quite yet here, the Cleveland Browns Foundation celebrated its own important 20 on Monday with its 20th annual golf tournament.
The event, presented by Key Private Bank in association with University Hospitals and Professional Travel, took place at the Westwood Country Club on a partly cloudy Monday. A host of important Browns figures attended: Dee and Jimmy Haslam, executive vice president JW Johnson, general manager John Dorsey, head coach Freddie Kitchens, and a selection of players, coaches and alumni.
The golf tournament is the foundation's longest standing and most successful fundraiser, generating more than $3 million since its launch, and one of the many important events that help the Browns continue their work toward improving the quality of education for Ohio students.
A key focus of this work is chronic student absenteeism, which the franchise and foundation identified together as an important indicator of success.
"If you miss 10 or more days, you're probably not going to graduate from high school, and that's pretty astounding," Browns owner Dee Haslam said Monday. ... "so we decided to involve our players in messaging to the community. A message from a player to someone's home does make a difference."
Dee Haslam went on to explain the barriers that lead to chronic absenteeism, including a lack of clean clothes for school. That led the Browns to partner with the School and Clothes for Kids Foundation to distribute Special Teams Packages, which include new uniforms and school supplies for students. Browns players most recently made a surprise visit to Paul L. Dunbar Elementary in April in Cleveland to give students these packages.
Check out photos from the third day of OTA practices
Another important part of the Cleveland Browns Foundation's commitment to education and youth football is helping schools and communities with their playing surfaces. The foundation, with the assistance of four current Browns players, broke ground on a 70-yard turf field in Garfield Heights last week as part of a partnership with Boys Hope Girls Hope. It was the eighth of nine multi-sport playing fields to be funded in part by the Browns since summer 2016 as part of Browns Give Back.
"We think that will help get not only young people involved in football, but help get young people involved in all kinds of different sports because you can use those fields year-round for multiple sports," Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said of the field initiative. "We strongly believe that education is the key to the future.
"Study after study have showed that young people and children who get involved in school, attend school have a better chance of succeeding in school. If they'll stay in school, graduate from high school, the chances of them having a successful life are much, much higher than those who drop out of school early and that's why we've had such a tremendous focus on education, on extracurricular activities, particularly youth football. I think participation in youth football is up 15-20 percent in Northeastern Ohio. We'd like to think that has a lot to do with the programs we're involved in."
All of these efforts are possible in part because of money and awareness raised by the foundation's golf outing. For more information, visit www.clevelandbrowns.com/brownsgiveback.