Actor Rico Rodriguez Helping Inspire 100 Million People to Become Their Best through Literacy and Reading
Project mission is to transform lives by enabling access to educational resources, empowering teachers and inspiring readers in local communities around the world
- Program begins September 8, 2016, which also marks the 50-year anniversary of “International Literacy Day”
- Nearly one billion people cannot read this sentence
- Communities with lower literacy rates have higher levels of poverty, unemployment
- For the past 32 years, Pizza Hut has helped develop a love of reading among 65 million young people through the BOOK IT! program
- Rodriguez, who has also written a book, is supporting The Literacy Project by serving as project ambassador, as well as assisting in the donation of books to 100 second- and third-graders at PS 30, a public elementary school in East Harlem
- Pizza Hut is partnering with First Book, the award-winning, nonprofit social enterprise that furthers education equity for classrooms and programs serving kids in need
PLANO, TEXAS (Sept. 8, 2016) – Pizza Hut today announced a global commitment to literacy and reading that engages customers and team members around the world through a coordinated fundraising and community engagement campaign to enable access to resources, empower teachers and inspire reading on a global scale.
Called Pizza Hut: The Literacy Project, the campaign will transform the lives of 100 million people over the course of 10 years by helping them become their best through literacy and reading.
The project kicks off on “International Literacy Day,” established 50 years ago to actively mobilize the international community to promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, local communities and societies.
“Nearly one billion people in the world cannot read this sentence,” said Artie Starrs, President, Pizza Hut, U.S. “Literacy and reading are bridges to opportunity, and at Pizza Hut, we believe that providing access to literacy and reading resources will help people thrive, creating more prosperous economies and communities.”
To help launch The Literacy Project, Pizza Hut launched a video designed to help people internalize what it would be like to experience “Life without Words.” The video is designed to inspire an understanding of how literacy and reading play a significant role throughout our lives.
Pizza Hut has a long history of supporting literacy. The Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program, which was established by the pizza restaurant in 1984, has been inspiring young people to read for more than 30 years. Roughly 1 in 5 Americans have participated in BOOK IT!, including more than 14 million students this year in 620,000 classrooms in the U.S. The BOOK IT! Program is the longest-running, corporate-supported literacy program in the country, and The Literacy Program is building on that foundation.
More information about The Literacy Project can be found at TheLiteracyProject.PizzaHut.com.
Partnering with First Book
First Book, a recognized nonprofit, social sector leader in supporting equal access to education by providing new books and education resources to schools and programs that serve children in need, will support Pizza Hut in fulfilling its goal.
Through The Literacy Project, funds raised will provide educators with credits to the First Book Marketplace for selected schools and programs located near Pizza Hut restaurants. These credits will provide the needed purchasing power that allows educators to select from thousands of specially curated book titles and other educational resources available for free or at deeply reduced rates.
In addition, First Book features Open eBooks, a digital library loaded with thousands of free eBooks available to anyone within its network.
“The teachers we serve tell us that when a child discovers a love of reading, not only do they unlock their potential, but ultimately the community benefits,” said Kyle Zimmer, co-founder, president and CEO, First Book. “But too many low-income communities simply don’t have the resources to provide children with access to books, and 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 will unlock the potential of millions of underserved children and communities.”
International Literacy Day Announcement Featuring TV Star Rico Rodriguez
To kick off the program, Pizza Hut, First Book and TV star Rico Rodriguez are putting books in the hands of 100 second and third graders at PS 30, a public elementary school in East Harlem, New York City. Students will receive a free book to further the effort of enabling access, a key component of improving literacy around the world.
“Reading books can open your world to places you would never otherwise experience,” said Rodriguez. “Through The Literacy Project, we’re going to be able to inspire reading and literacy all around the world.”
Pizza Hut restaurants will be fundraising year-round in support of The Literacy Project. Beginning on September 8, Pizza Hut customers have a chance to support literacy in restaurant or online at PizzaHut.com, with donations that will be designated to build literacy in their communities. Any donation can have a major impact.
- $1 helps take an important step toward literacy
- $3 gives a brand new book
- $5 provides new school supplies
- $10 purchases a backpack of books
Pizza Hut team members and franchise partners will power The Literacy Project, with each restaurant being called upon to organize community engagement efforts to address literacy and inspire donations in their communities.
On September 8, Pizza Hut employees are encouraged to give back to the communities in which they serve by finding volunteer opportunities with organizations such as churches, schools or libraries to build book cases, develop pop-up reading nooks and read to members in the community.
“We are incredibly passionate about the communities where we have restaurants and our team members couldn’t be more excited about giving back locally,” said Bill Walsh, CEO of Daland Corporation, a Pizza Hut franchisee. “BOOK IT! has created the perfect platform to inspire readers in our communities. By expanding that commitment through The Literacy Project, we believe our community impact will be even greater, which is very important to us and our team members.”
Countries currently participating in The Literacy Project include the United States, Brazil, South Africa and Costa Rica. Additional countries and locations will be added throughout the campaign.
About Pizza Hut
Pizza Hut, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc. (NYSE: YUM), delivers more pizza, pasta and wings than any other restaurant in the world. The pizza restaurant began 58 years ago in Wichita, Kansas, when two brothers borrowed $600 from their mom to start a pizzeria. What started out small has become the biggest pizza restaurant in the world and today operates more than 16,000 restaurants in more than 100 countries serving innovative pizzas, traditional favorites like the signature Pan Pizza, and much more. Pizza Hut also is the proprietor of the BOOK IT!® Program, which is a long-standing children’s literacy program used in more than 630,000 classrooms nationwide. For more information, visit www.pizzahut.com. Follow Pizza Hut on Facebook (www.facebook.com/PizzaHut), Twitter (www.twitter.com/pizzahut) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/pizzahut).
About First Book
First Book is an award-winning, nonprofit social enterprise that provides new books, learning materials and essentials to children in need. First Book has distributed more than 150 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout the United States and Canada. First Book’s membership of more than 275,000 teachers and program leaders is the largest and fastest growing network of educators exclusively serving children from low-income families. By making new, high-quality books and essentials available to them on an ongoing basis, First Book is transforming lives, so that every child can have equal access to a quality education. Eligible educators, librarians, program leaders, and others serving children in need can sign up at firstbook.org/register. For more information, please visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.
*For all media inquiries, please contact Pizza Hut:
Doug Terfehr, 972-338-6992, Doug.Terfehr@yum.com
Courtney Moscovic, 972-338-8288, Courtney.Moscovic@yum.com
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