When we think of reading, we often assume that everyone can read, but that’s not quite true. According to thinkimpact.com, on average 79% of American adults are literate in 2022, but 21% are illiterate. On average, 66% of fourth graders in the United States could not read well in 2013.
There is still a lot of room for improvement. Former NFL player and five-time Super Bowl champion Charles Haley, alongside Bob Bowie, founders of the Tackle Tomorrow Foundation, are making it their business to change those statistics in South Dallas. Like some of the children he wants to help with his foundation, he was raised in a low-income home and struggled with an education reading three grade levels behind his peers before attending James Madison University, but he tackled this with the help of football coaches and teachers throughout his career resulting in incredible confidence and reading levels. As a member of the NFL Hall of Fame, Haley is now focused on giving back by providing young students with the resources and technology they need to meet literacy challenges.
So what is the Tackle Tomorrow Foundation? It is a literacy movement.
“It’s about education and reading with children tested in third grade. If they’re not reading at grade level, then that’s how they build prisons, so we wanted to make some changes,” says Haley.
Tackle Tomorrow provides reading coaches who bring many years of experience in public education and specialized expertise in teaching reading. Each school’s reading coach facilitates and implements program goals and objectives in close collaboration with the teaching staff. Tackle Tomorrow also provides national award-winning software called station to schools in the Dallas Independent School District. Some of the essentials provided by this software include listening comprehension, letter knowledge, vocabulary, spelling and word analysis.
“We bring books to school, we bring technology, software in English and Spanish, we provide computers, we take a bike ride for the best reader, and then we also do Thanksgiving food drives. and Christmas for the community. You know, you can only build a child if you build community,” says Haley.
As you may be wondering, where can children participate in this program? Currently, the program operates only in the South Dallas area, including schools, Paul L. Dunbar Learning Center, HI Holland Elementary, and Whitney M. Young Jr Elementary.
The foundation has just organized a charity poker tournament attended by big names such as Emmitt Smith, Ed “Too Tall Jones” and Drew Pearson.
“We had a lot of great guys show up,” Haley says.
“It’s not about black or white, rich or poor, it’s about the haves and the have-nots. Those who have an education move on, those who don’t stay in poverty or go to jail,” Haley says.
The foundation hosts upcoming events such as the 7th Annual Tackle Tomorrow Today Celebrity Golf Tournament and A Night with Legends Charity Dinner.