ORLANDO - Part of Jonathan Isaac’s routine before games is watching film and reading over scouting reports of opponents. To play well and help his team win, the second-year forward knows he must do his homework. By studying his performances from recent games and reviewing other teams’ tendencies, Isaac feels much more confident when he steps out onto the court.
The same concept applies to students in the classroom. To excel in school, children must read, do their homework and pay attention to teachers during classes. The more prepared a student is before an exam, the more likely they will ace it.
With all the knowledge he has attained since becoming a pro athlete and after seeing first-hand the difference it makes when NBA players play an active role in the lives of children, Isaac has decided to do everything in his power to make sure kids recognize the significance of developing strong comprehension skills. That’s why the 21-year-old has teamed up with Coaching for Literacy (CFL) to benefit children in grades K-3 in all Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) and help them appreciate reading.
Starting on Wednesday, Dec. 5 when the Magic host the Nuggets, Isaac will raise funds and call attention to grade level reading by wearing the color green (socks, laces, tights and wristband). The Bronx, N.Y. native will do the same during Orlando’s subsequent three games (Dec. 7 vs. Pacers, Dec. 10 at Mavs and Dec. 13 vs. Bulls in Mexico City).
By encouraging fans to join the Fight for Literacy by pledging a donation at www.fightforliteracygames.org for every point he scores during those four games, Isaac is convinced that if enough people contribute more kids will be better equipped for success. All of the money raised will support children participating in OCPS’ Read2Succeed program.
“It’s extremely important, not even just in the realm of literacy, but it’s just extremely important to be active in our community, trying to help these kids in any way that we can,” said Isaac, who will match up to $5,000 of the donations made by fans. “It just so happens that this initiative, Coaching for Literacy, is going to be a literacy project, so it’s super fun. I’m excited to score some points and help these kids get some books.”
Even more motivated to assist after hearing about a disheartening stat from the National Assessment of Educational Progress that 59 percent of fourth graders in Florida do not read at the proficient level, Isaac hopes this initiative will spur change amongst young learners.
With a younger brother who is currently in the fourth grade, the 6-foot-10, 210-pounder wants to see more of today’s youth excel in and out of school.
“Obviously, we want the kids to have fun but at the same time we want them to get it, we want them to get what we are talking about,” he said. “My biggest thing is just really getting into their minds that reading is so important for them and when you look at the statistics around the country, it’s crazy how behind we are.”
It was when he was at Florida State and participated in an event where he read with elementary students that Isaac, the No. 6 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Magic, first started thinking about ways he can make a difference in children’s lives, especially when it comes to their education.
As soon as his NBA journey began, Isaac wasted no time utilizing the platform he’s on and the resources he’s been given. In fact, he’s already become a Literacy Ambassador for Coaching for Literacy, in which he supports over 32 million illiterate Americans who struggle to complete everyday tasks like filling out a job application, registering to vote, and following instructions from a medical prescription.
“Once I got to the league, they had asked me if I wanted to continue (in Coaching for Literacy) and we went to dinner, we talked about it and I decided I wanted to keep going with it and bring it into the league,” Isaac said. “Hopefully in a couple years, it’s a league-wide thing.”