CCSU Athletics and Walmart Foundation Announce $50,000 Grant

New Britain Herald Article Highlighting Program

February 17, 2012 (New Britain, CT)
- Central Connecticut State University Director of Athletics Paul Schlickmann announced a new partnership between the Department of Athletics and the Walmart Foundation today.  The Walmart Foundation has donated $50,000 to the department to use towards education through athletics programming.

"We are thrilled to announce this partnership between Blue Devil Athletics and the Walmart Foundation.  We are grateful for their trust in our ideas and the ability to put those ideas into action," Schlickmann said.  "Community engagement is a strategic institutional priority here at Central. This is an exceptional opportunity for us to carry out the University mission and it is incumbent upon us to maximize that opportunity."

Through the financial support of the grant, Blue Devil student-athletes will volunteer in local elementary schools in New Britain and the surrounding area, exposing students to the importance of education and the value of athletic participation. Blue Devil student-athletes will volunteer at Gaffney, Lincoln, Northend, Smalley, and Vance Village Elementary schools in New Britain.  The student-athletes will also visit Stafford Elementary School in Bristol and John Paterson Elementary School in Newington as part of the program.

"The substance of this program exemplifies our core values with a focus on athletics as a critical vehicle in the educational development of our student-athletes, and in this case, the youth of our community," Schlickmann added.

“We are pleased to bring Central Connecticut State University and the Walmart Foundation together.  The money will go a long way to make a difference in the local elementary schools and the surrounding community," Walmart Personnel and Community Relations manager Beth Egliskis said.  "We strive to provide opportunities that improve the lives of individuals in our communities including our customers and associates. The Walmart Foundation supports initiatives focused on enhancing opportunities in several areas, including education and literacy.  This is an exciting day, and we are happy to be teaming up with the Blue Devils on such an important project.”

The partnership between CCSU and the Walmart Foundation will provide books and run literacy projects at each of the elementary schools throughout the school year.   A celebration of Read Across America Day will take place on February 25 on the CCSU campus.  The students will have the opportunity to visit and tour the campus, visit with several faculty members and attend a CCSU sporting event with their Blue Devil mentors.   The men's and women's basketball teams will host Wagner College in a doubleheader that day beginning at 1 p.m.  In addition the women's lacrosse team will be hosting Bryant University in its home opener that day at 1 p.m.

Additionally, the foundation grant will help the University run several community events such as National Girls and Women in Sports Day, which was celebrated on February 11. The celebration included several mini sports clinics hosted by Blue Devil female student-athletes, as well as free t-shirts, book giveaways, lunch and admission to the women’s basketball game vs. Quinnipiac.  Both teams celebrated the 40th Anniversary of Title IX on that afternoon.

Throughout the school year, the partnership between CCSU and the Walmart Foundation will bring several hundred students from local elementary schools, the New Britain YWCA, the New Britain and Hartford Boys and Girls Clubs, and the New Britain Housing Authority to the CCSU campus.

"Our goal is that our student-athletes will inspire boys and girls to challenge themselves and achieve in school, at play and in their lives," Schlickmann said.  "At the same time, this program creates a unique environment for our student-athletes and staff to serve as mentors and role models.  Our hope is that through the generosity of the Walmart Foundation, we create a model program that will positively impact the youth in our community for years to come."

March Madness Reading Challenge
One of the highlights of the partnership between the Walmart Foundation and CCSU is the implementation of the March Madness Reading Challenge, which will be run at all of the elementary schools.  Elementary school students will join CCSU student-athletes to participate in our March Madness Reading Challenge. This challenge will reward students with points for the minutes they read outside of class. Each round of the challenge gets more competitive and points will be more difficult to earn. Each week the competing schools will tally their points to find out where they rank in the challenge using special tracking charts provided by CCSU. The winning class will receive a special Blue Devil t-shirt, and the individual winner will be rewarded a trip to CCSU for an athletic event of their choice, and the chance to sit on the bench with the student-athletes.

The book for this competition, purchased through the Walmart grant is, Racing in the Rain: My Life as a Dog by Garth Stein, a special adaptation for young people of the acclaimed New York Times bestselling adult novel The Art of Racing in the Rain. This book addresses the themes of competition, challenge, dreams, friendship, and the human spirit – ideal for young students to connect with CCSU student athletes.

For students who do not meet the reading level of the book, CCSU student-athletes will travel to the schools and read to the students. Those students who can read the book on their own will engage with the student-athletes in book discussions. Various other group discussions and physical activities in designated physical education classes will take place over the four-week period.

Each elementary school will be provided with charts to track their weekly and monthly totals. Additionally there will be logs provided to help students keep track of their minutes and points each night.

CCSU Athletics to Celebrate Read Across America Day
The Central Connecticut Department of Athletics will welcome local students to campus to celebrate the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day on Saturday, February 25. Students will receive a tour of the CCSU campus and honor Dr. Seuss’ birthday with a reading of The Cat in the Hat by several members of the athletic department and CCSU student-athletes. Following the reading, participants will be provided with a snack and admission to the men’s basketball season-finale vs. Wagner at 3:30 p.m.