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PPS, Trail Blazers, partners launch unprecedented effort to help all kids read by 3rd grade

November 06, 2013
Robin Lopez, center for the Portland Trail Blazers, is the face of the Read Big campaign.
Robin Lopez, center for the Portland Trail Blazers, is the face of the Read Big campaign.
The campaign kicked off during a press conference Wednesday that featured Portland Trail Blazers center Robin Lopez at the Chief Joseph campus of the Chief Joseph/Ockley Green School. 

Designed to inspire students to read, the Trail Blazers' "Read Big" campaign transforms Lopez, an avid reader who has a love for comic books, into a super hero. Lopex credited his mother, a high school teacher, for inspiring his passion for reading and books at an early age.

“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.”

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At Wednesday’s event, Portland Public Schools Superintendent Carole Smith, along with business and civic leaders, and several non-profit literacy groups, announced the launch of a new mobilized effort to draw attention to early literacy. The goal is to have all PPS first graders -- 100 percent -- reading by the end of third grade in the 2016-2017 academic year.

“Early literacy is a top priority at PPS," Smith said. “We appreciate the Trail Blazers and this unprecedented partnership which will help our students meet this unprecedented goal.”

Smith acknowledged the important role of PPS' nonprofit partners at Reading Results, SMART Readers, The Shadow Project, the Multnomah County Library, SUN Schools, and the Children's Book Bank, which is sponsoring the Children's Fall Book Harvest this month to collect 25,000 new and gently used books for early readers.

Asking community to help reach goal

"This all starts with our wonderful teachers who are doing their very best every day to help every kid succeed," Smith said."But this year, we are asking our partners to do more to support our teachers. And finally, we need the entire community.

"Today, we are asking every Portlander to join us. You can help by reading to your child. You can help by donating a book. You can help by volunteering your time. You can help by providing financial support to one of our non-profit partners. Every student can read. All of us can help."

To get involved in any of these ways, check out the Read Big, Read Together website.

Students from Chief Joseph helped unveil the Read Big campaign art 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, which include classroom posters, reading logs and a challenge for students to read.

The goal for Read Big 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.

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