Chris Long is a good guy. He has a track record of selflessly integrating philanthropic causes into his off-field practice on a regular basis. Long has a unique understanding of his professional position of influence.
"I just feel like when you tie in football, which people are crazy about, to a cause that maybe people aren't as aware of, and use your platform to educate people on some of the dire needs we have, you get them excited and they give," Long said. "That's what happened last year, and hopefully it happens this year."
In 2017, Long donated his entire one million dollar salary to charity via his "Pledge 10 for Tomorrow" drive, providing scholarships and and supporting educational equity. Later, just weeks after winning Super Bowl LII in 2018, Long climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise awareness and funding to benefit the east African water crisis.
Yesterday, Long and his wife Megan announced they are donating 1/4 of his salary this season to launch the "First Quarter for Literacy" campaign to encourage early literacy among children. Amounting to approximately $400,000, this campaign is in partnership with the United Way to distribute books to children in under served neighborhoods. The ultimate goal of the campaign is to increase awareness of the correlation between earlier life reading proficiency and long-term quality of life.
"Kids don't have a choice. Kids don't pick their parents, they don't pick their economic background, they don't pick the neighborhood they grew up in, they don't pick any of the factors that can hold them back, they don't pick their school system," Long said. "So, it just feels like you're doing something productive. ... I just feel like this is something where you're going to see results."
Long is focusing his efforts in areas of personal interest, specifically his hometown of Charlottesville, VA, former Rams market of St. Louis, Patriots hub of Boston, and Philadelphia. To further his cause, he has also pledged to match opposing team donations up to $25,000 to allocate books to communities in their respective markets.
Former teammate, offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, pledged $20,000 for the children of Los Angeles.
Connor Barwin has donated $10,000 to benefit children in his current market of New York City.
Former Eagles defensive tackle Beau Allen, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, pledged $5,000.
Fletcher Cox pledged to give $10,000 to encourage youth literacy efforts in his home state of Mississippi.
The partnership with United Way extends the reach of Long's efforts. Not only will parents be become better informed about how to equip their children to succeed, but they will become better educated on how to enhance the children's ability to learn. "I hope that it changes parents' perspectives on how important it is, and how much they should cherish their time with their kids at night, reading 20 minutes a day, and the books that they have," Long said. "It's changed things for me." In conclusion, Chris Long is a really good guy. If so inclined to support this initiative, please visit FirstQuarterForLiteracy.org.