Robin Lopez Joins Trail Blazers, Knowledge Universe And Portland Schools To Inspires Students To “READ BIG”

Mayor declares “READ BIG DAY” in Portland

Robin Lopez Joins Trail Blazers, Knowledge Universe And Portland Schools To Insp

PORTLAND, Ore. (Nov. 6, 2013) – The Portland Trail Blazers and Knowledge Universe announced a new literacy campaign called “READ BIG” during a press conference held at Portland Public Schools’ Chief Joseph Elementary on Wednesday.

Designed to inspire students to read, the campaign features Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez. Lopez, an avid reader with a love for comics, credits his mother, a high school teacher, for developing a love of books at an early age.

At Wednesday’s event, Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith, non-profit literacy groups and students from Chief Joseph helped to unveil the campaign’s branding inspired by Lopez’s passion for comics. The life-sized animated superhero resembling Lopez and clutching a READ BIG book will be featured in all the campaign’s materials to include classroom posters, reading logs and a public service campaign.

“If I’m not playing basketball, I’m reading or thinking of stories I can create,” said Lopez. “I am so fortunate to have a mom who shared with me her love for books and helped me, from my earliest memories, take great adventures through reading.”

PPS Superintendent Smith approached the Trail Blazers for help in inspiring young students to develop an early love for reading as part of PPS’ efforts to help all Portland kids learn to read by 3rd Grade. The ultimate goal for collaboration between the Trail Blazers and Knowledge Universe is to provide identified support and advocacy that will help meet Oregon’s goal of having all students achieve and exceed third grade reading benchmarks by 2017.

“Reading is one of the most important ways we can make sure our children are prepared and have the tools they need to succeed in today’s world,” said Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber. “Study after study has shown that reading proficiency by third grade is a critical indicator of future educational and social success. We know that reading as little as ten minutes a day outside of school has an extraordinary impact on the vocabulary and reading proficiency of a child.

“Our long-term prosperity as a state depends on our ability to more effectively prepare each and every student for their future. I applaud the Trail Blazers, Robin Lopez and Knowledge Universe’s efforts to elevate reading in their community and their commitment to a more prosperous Oregon.”

The program will initially be focused in support of the literacy efforts at Portland Public Schools and five Portland metro-area school districts with the goal to expand to schools statewide.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales provided the City’s endorsement of this effort by declaring Wednesday, Nov. 6th, 2013 “READ BIG DAY” in Portland, stating “We believe with valuable assists from businesses, schools and the community, 100% of Portland-area 3rd Grade students will meet reading benchmarks by 2017.”

“Knowledge Universe cares for and educates 130,000 children across the country every day, and we know that developing reading skills early on is paramount to realizing literacy and academic success in later grades and beyond,” said Knowledge Universe CEO Tom Wyatt.

Along with partnering in the READ BIG campaign, literacy efforts in Portland Public Schools will include a non-profit collaborative of key non-profit organizations dedicated to improving childhood literacy. Start Making a Reader Today (SMART), SUN Schools, the Shadow Project, Reading Results, the Children’s Book Bank and Multnomah County Libraries have joined together to provide resources and volunteers focused on enhancing student reading results. In addition, the Trail Blazers and Knowledge Universe will work with All Hands Raised to target schools and students most in need of support.

“Early literacy is a top priority. At Portland Public Schools we want 100 percent of early learners reading at grade level by the end of third grade, starting with this year’s first graders,” said Superintendent Smith. “We appreciate the Trail Blazers and Knowledge Universe and this unprecedented partnership which will help our students meet this unprecedented goal.”

The READ BIG program will launch in select Portland elementary school classrooms in November. Students will be encouraged to read and reach individual goals. Students that meet their goals will be provided with incentives, including special classroom visits, attending Trail Blazers games and participating in a reading celebration with the team at the Moda Center in March.

“Investing in the education of our children, especially during the early years, is among the best ways to keep Oregon’s communities strong and viable,” said Chris McGowan, President & CEO of the Trail Blazers and Moda Center. “The Trail Blazers have placed a special priority on literacy, and welcome the chance to partner with Knowledge Universe on this initiative.”