Men’s basketball hosts fourth annual Fight for Literacy game


Mia Hennen

Fans cheer at last year’s Coaching for Literacy game against the University of South Florida on Feb. 12, 2022. Wichita State won the game 73-69.

In 2021, 79% of Wichita 3rd graders were not reading proficiently.

To help the fight for literacy, men’s basketball has teamed up with United Way of the Plains, Coaching for Literacy and International Paper to help support local students.

The annual Coaching for Literacy game will be held on Feb. 8 against the University of Central Florida  and will help to fundraise for childhood literacy.

The money raised will support 14 schools in USD259.— all of which are Title 1 schools, which means 80% or more of students are on reduced lunches. 

“We are partnering with schools, where many of the young people in the schools identify as Black or Brown,” Abel Frederic, Vice President of Community Impact for United Way of the Plains said. “They are Black, Indigenous or persons of color. And so how our fight for literacy campaign is different is the books that we provide feature characters of color. So these are characters that look just like the young person that is reading the book, because at the end of the day, representation matters.” 

While Coaching for Literacy is a nationwide effort, the funds raised by each team will remain local. The money raised by the men’s basketball team will purchase two books and a light book bag for each kindergarten through third-grade student in those 14 schools.

Childhood literacy is a growing national problem with two in three American third-graders unable to read proficiently. Reading proficiently focuses on reading comprehension, word recognition and the ability to dissect what’s in a book and apply it to the classroom. 

“When young people are in school, from kindergarten to second grade, they are learning to read,” Fredric said. “By the time they enter third grade, they are reading to learn.”

30 NCAA Division 1 basketball teams are participating in the campaign, which runs through the end of February. 

So far, all three of the top fundraisers are from the American Athletic Conference. The “Wichita State Fight for Literacy benefiting United Way of the Plains literacy efforts” team is winning with over $10,000 donated. In second place is the “SMU Mustangs Fight for Literacy benefitting Readers 2 Leaders,” with over $3,000 donated. In third place is “Houston Fight for Literacy benefitting local students through Literacy Now,” with over $1,000 raised.

You can create your own literacy team page with friends, family or coworkers to support your choice of a college basketball team, and help fundraise for that team. There are currently 10 teams supporting the Wichita State men’s basketball team.

There will be  a QR code on the jumbotron during the game that  can be scanned to donate. Donations can also be made on the Coaching for Literacy website.