Travelers, Wolves Value Partnership Through Read To Achieve Month

Travelers, Wolves Value Partnership Through Read To Achieve Month

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Mike Newman vividly recalls the influences he had as a child when it came to developing a love for reading. For him, it began with people who were connected with sports that helped him realize the importance of being a serious student in order to realize his dreams.

Now, he has the opportunity to continue fostering that type of love for reading with this generation’s children. Newman, the Vice President of the Travelers Insurance Foundation, worked closely with the Timberwolves’ FastBreak Foundation presented by the Roger and Nancy McCabe Foundation this month in sponsoring Read To Achieve Month. The initiative, sponsored by Travelers, focuses on developing a passion for reading in today’s youth through donated grants, Reading Timeouts and a reading incentive program.

Throughout the month, the Timberwolves took part in honoring members of the community who have made an impact in advancing the love of reading with local children as well as going out into the community to help foster that passion for books.

“It sounds kind of corny, but people that are in the roles like the staff of the Timberwolves—not just the players, but staff—being involved with that reading, to a kid that’s sitting out there, that’s the kind of role model they need,” Newman said. “For me, that’s what it was. I think for people who enjoy sports, that’s a vehicle to turn them on to learning or to keep them connecting.”

It was a month-long event.

The first component was a series of Reading Timeouts with players, including Greg Stiemsma making an appearance at a local school as well as appearances by Wolves Radio host John Focke and mascot Crunch. It also included an all-staff reading day, in which members of the Timberwolves’ administrative, community relations, marketing/communications and fan experience/sales staffs read to more than 3,000 students in the Twin Cities and dedicated about 120 volunteer hours on March 14.

The second component was a series of grants allocated to organizations in the community that focus on advancing literacy. Neighborhood House, AVID and Northern Voices each received grants to advance their missions to go along with a suite at a Wolves game and gift bags.

“We really like that element of the work that’s being done, and we love being involved with you guys and being able to honor Neighborhood House and other partners makes it extra special for us,” Newman said.

The third installment of Read To Achieve Month was a series of Heroes In The Making on-court presentations. These ceremonies honored local individuals and organizations that work toward spreading love for reading and education for Minnesota’s youth. It included an on-court presentation, a suite at a Wolves game and a gift bag.

And finally, Read To Achieve Month hosted a Starting Five reading incentive program that included incentives such as a ticket to a Wolves game as part of a prize package for those students who completed certain levels of criteria. More than 6,000 kids participated, and the top three were recognized and received a suite and a jersey at Read To Achieve Night on March 24.

All of these initiatives help promote reading at an early age that can foster into a lifelong passion that leads to future career success, Newman said.

“We view reading as fundamental to academic achievement,” Newman said. “It’s the core around which academics and academic skills are formed, so for us it’s an opportunity for us to partner with a great organization that’s committed to a similar cause that we are. That academic achievement then leading to college access and college success.”

Newman said reading is the basis of all educational success—the core of knowledge in whichever field you hope to one day pursue. And when this type of effort is put into helping young kids get excited about reading, it only helps further the cause. Newman said the feedback he gets from St. Paul Public Schools is that it gives kids hope and a vision of what they can achieve in their own careers.

Together, Travelers and the Timberwolves hope to show children just how important reading is to their futures. Newman said the Wolves’ passion for this cause has made it a fun partnership.

“Just the overall kind of community attitude that this franchise has is something that is wonderful for that reason to be involved with,” Newman said. “They’re great partners, they follow through, it’s been a great initiative for us now going into our fourth year and we see it continuing.”

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