By Jaime Aron
The College Football Playoff Foundation and ESPN capped a championship weekend filled with celebrating local K-12 educators with one more gift benefiting students and classrooms.
During the first quarter of the CFP title game on Monday night, ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro and CFP executive director Bill Hancock presented a $100,00 check to representatives from New Orleans Public Schools and Jefferson Parish Schools. The money will enable teachers to provide resources through DonorsChoose.org.
The gift underscored ESPN’s relationship with the CFP Foundation. Not only was the network among the first partners of the game’s philanthropic arm, it’s also been among the most generous, investing more than $2 million.
Now in its sixth season, the CFP Foundation is the largest sports entity in the country benefitting education and among the most successful sports charities, having pumped about $30 million nationally into education.
Extra Yard For Teachers is the effort’s public face, and its logo – a green apple with the CFP logo in the center – was ever-present throughout the championship weekend. Local teachers were celebrated often, and the Teachers of the Year from every state were a big part of many events, including on the field during the pregame festivities.
While the organization’s work gets maximum exposure during title weekend, the Foundation takes pride in making a lasting impact in the game’s host community.
Years before, Foundation officials work with local education officials to identify their biggest need and to figure out how the organization can help. In New Orleans, they came up with a $2.5 million, multiyear campaign to improve recruitment and retention of K-12 teachers. It’s a drastic need as about 900 teachers – about one-third of the workforce – leave the profession each year.
With ESPN’s support, programs already launched in this effort include an effort to recruit teachers from local universities and working with the University of New Orleans to develop more high-quality teachers; that effort already has placed more than 130 UNO students into New Orleans Public Schools.