September 28, 2018 / 2:47 PM / 2 months ago

Eagles' Long pledges $400,000 to literacy programs

Eagles defensive end Chris Long is giving back in a big way again.

Sep 23, 2018; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long (56) reacts to a defensive stop against the Indianapolis Colts during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Long, who donated his entire 2017 regular-season salary to charity, pledged $400,000 of his $2.5 million salary for 2018 to literacy programs.

“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 [investing in them], 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 giving up one-fourth of his salary after taxes, founding the “First Quarter for Literacy” drive to help increase early literacy among young children in cooperation with the United Way.

Compelled to act after learning nearly two-thirds of fourth grade students in Philadelphia could not read at or near grade level, Long said he believes attention on the issue is needed.

“I want people to read the stuff I’m reading and see how dire of a need there is for us to raise the bar here, because it’s just a huge indicator,” Long said. “There is a direct correlation between how well a kid is reading by fourth grade and how their life is going to go.”

In addition, Long will match up to $25,000 in donations from players on teams the Eagles play this season. Former teammate Beau Allen donated $5,000 when the Eagles played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the match, $10,000 worth of books were donated to the Tampa area.

Long said the mission is to provide books to underserved neighborhoods. Beyond attempting to stock at-home libraries, Long is establishing Chris Long Book Nooks, which are intended to serve as neighborhood-based reading areas for families.

Long and his wife, Megan, are encouraging others to donate books by visiting FirstQuarterForLiteracy.org.

—Field Level Media

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