Ask someone, “What’s your favorite childhood book?” Most have a quick answer and a smile on their face. But for some people, there isn’t a quick answer. Or an answer at all.
A lack of books in the home is directly linked to an increased likelihood that a child will read below his or her grade level by the fourth grade. In fact, 25 million children in the U.S. cannot read proficiently. And students who can’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to leave school without a diploma than proficient readers, a huge barrier to meeting their full potential as adults.
That’s why Pizza Hut, the nation’s longest-standing corporate supporter of literacy, is kick-starting a giving program to tackle issues that lead to illiteracy. Through Pizza Hut: The Literacy Project – the company’s global commitment to literacy – the program will enable access to books and educational resources, empower teachers and inspire a lifelong love of reading.
“Literacy is a critical, foundational life skill that can have a profound impact on quality of life, yet it is an often overlooked social issue,” said Artie Starrs, President, Pizza Hut U.S. “The reality for many children growing up is that they do not have access to books in their home. Working alongside our 150,000 team members in the U.S., we are committed to help millions of children start a new chapter by providing books and educational resources they need to reach their full potential.”
The Literacy Project fundraising campaign, which runs February 26 through April 15, is a critical part of achieving the company’s goal to transform the lives of 100 million people in just 10 years through reading. Pizza Hut is partnering with First Book, a recognized nonprofit, social sector leader, on its journey to fulfilling this goal. Supporters can join Pizza Hut on its mission by donating when they order from Pizza Hut in store, by phone and online or by visiting PizzaHut.com/TheLiteracyProject to give directly. All funds raised will provide educators with credits to obtain books and resources on the First Book Marketplace for selected schools and programs located near Pizza Hut restaurants.
“First Book is proud to continue to partner with Pizza Hut on its journey to impact 100 million lives through reading,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book President, CEO and Co-Founder. “We share a mission to elevate opportunities for children in need, but we recognize that too many low-income communities simply don’t have the resources to provide children with access to books, with the result that teachers in these classrooms and programs often spend hundreds of dollars of their own money to try to provide what students need. Pizza Hut: The Literacy Project can help unlock the potential of millions of underserved children and communities.”
As part of the campaign, Pizza Hut is asking consumers to help jumpstart an important conversation about literacy. Tapping into the nostalgia many people have for reading their favorite childhood book, Pizza Hut is encouraging consumers to share the joy they experienced reading that book and to ask people to donate to help every child have that same experience.
As an incentive to share, Pizza Hut is giving away a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience to bring one lucky person’s favorite book to life. To enter for a chance to win, consumers can share the title of their favorite book and why it’s important to them on Instagram or Twitter, tag @PizzaHut and use the hashtags #HelpStartANewChapter #sweepstakes. The winner will be announced by April 30.
Nick Lachey, a multi-platinum recording artist, television personality and father of three, has joined Pizza Hut on its mission to raise awareness for literacy. Together, Lachey, Pizza Hut and First Book will give books to students at a public elementary school in Lachey’s local community to help inspire their love of reading.
“As a father of three young children, I witness the impact that reading has on their lives and imaginations every day,” said Lachey. “Pizza Hut and The Literacy Project are making an incredible impact by providing kids who may not have abundant access to books with resources that inspire their creativity. I’m proud to participate in this campaign and raise awareness for this important cause.”