Literacy challenge engages third graders across Minnesota in learning competition with opportunity to attend Tourney Town at the 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four
MINNEAPOLIS – Oct. 13, 2021 – The National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Minnesota Local Organizing Committee of the 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four announced registration for the 2022 Read to the Final Four program is now open and available through Oct. 25. A legacy literacy challenge, Read to the Final Four aims to inspire youth toward a lifetime dedication and love of reading and learning.
Read to the Final Four provides reading incentives and a fun competition to increase reading habits and proficiencies. The challenge will be open to all third grade classes in elementary schools across Minnesota, and the top four schools will win a trip to Tourney Town at the 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four in Minneapolis.
“Literacy is a life-long skill. Not only does it serve as a foundation for students’ pre-K-12 education, it also empowers them for life-long learning. While the Read to the Final Four challenge is for third graders across Minnesota, it is an opportunity for all families, caregivers, and children to come together to build literacy skills and a love for reading,” said Read to the Final Four Honorary Co-Chair Dr. Heather Mueller, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education. “Our students and families have faced incredible disruptions throughout the pandemic, and this challenge is a wonderful opportunity to support them and their learning.”
Studies have shown third-grade students are reading to learn, rather than learning to read, and students reading below their grade level in fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school than their peers.
“The third grade is a pivotal year for students and their academic success moving forward,” said Lynn Holzman, NCAA Vice President for Women’s Basketball. “The Read to the Final Four program brings the excitement of NCAA championships to an important educational initiative, and we hope the program this year will inspire kids to reach for academic success in addition to athletics accomplishments.” Through community outreach, educational influencers and the Title IX Advisory Committee members, the Local Organizing Committee and the NCAA are committed to enrolling third-graders throughout Minnesota, especially students in urban and tribal schools.
“Across all racial groups and income levels, students faced many new challenges last school year. We are dedicated to making Read to the Final Four an inclusive opportunity for students across Minnesota,” said Honorary Co-Chair Randall McDaniel, a Pro Football Hall of Famer and former elementary school tutor. “Through virtual training, custom websites and help desk hours, we will assist teachers step-by-step throughout the challenge. Teachers have gone the extra mile to educate their students this past year, and Read to the Final Four is focused on supporting their efforts and recognizing their dedication and hard work.”
Honorary Co-Chairs helping lead Read to the Final Four include: • Shelly Breen, Author of the children’s book “Shelly Bean the Sports Queen” • Shelley Buck, Tribal Council President, Prairie Island Indian Community • Qorsho Hassan, 2020 Minnesota Teacher of the Year and Fourth-Grade Teacher at Echo Park Elementary in Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District 196 • Randall McDaniel, Pro Football Hall of Famer, Member of the Minnesota Vikings Ring of Honor and former Elementary School Basic Skills Instructor in Robbinsdale District 281 • Dr. Heather Mueller, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education
Read to the Final Four will launch in early January and conclude with the final four schools attending Tourney Town on April 1, where the winning school will be announced. The champion school will receive a trophy and a $5000 gift card to Scholastic Books.
About the Minnesota Local Organizing Committee and Minnesota Sports and Events The Minnesota Local Organizing Committee of the 2022 NCAA Women’s Final Four was formed by Minnesota Sports and Events, an independent 501c6 organization designed to bring significant economic, reputational, and social impact to the region through the attraction, promotion, and execution of world-class events. Minnesota Sports and Events was established in 2020 through the efforts of regional leaders in sports, business and hospitality who recognized the need to create a permanent sports commission to come together to formalize efforts with one voice.