FLINT TWP. — In an emotional homecoming, NFL and Carman- Ainsworth football standout Brandon Carr returned to Dye Elementary School last Friday to open a reading center for children.
Carr, who plays for the Dallas Cowboys, opened three reading centers in partnership with the United Way of Genesee County.
Through his non-profit Carr Cares Foundation, Carr donated $10,000 to a $30,000 campaign to establish reading centers at Dye Elementary and Durant- Tuuri-Mott and Doyle Ryder in Flint, aimed at improving reading skills.
Each Reading Center offers more than 500 books for children from pre-kindergarten through third grade, a listening library, book cases, colorful bean bag chairs, a reading-themed carpet, a stereo listening center with four headphones and an additional $3,000 to be used to further promote reading.
Carr dedicated the reading centers to his mother Kathy, an educator who died last year of breast cancer. He credited her with planting the seed of making education a priority in life.
“Growing up, I was blessed to have two incredible parents that mentored me and raised me to be the man I am today,” Carr said during a press conference at Dye, where he also spent about an hour reading to a small group of children and toured his “old stomping ground” to see what has changed since he was a student there.
“My parents stressed finding your niche in life, if you get a platform large or small, use it in a positive way and never forget where you came from,” Carr said.
Starting Carr Cares was a no-brainer for him, he said, calling it bigger than the NFL or the Dallas Cowboys or any sport.
“This is life and death for some people,” Carr said. “Education is very important to be able to succeed in life. I was blessed to have a foundation of people who steered me in the right direction. I look to the foundation to be that support group for any child that needs motivation.”
Carr said that opening the centers sends a message to the community that “we understand their needs and will do whatever it takes to get our kids on track.
Today is hopefully the start of many great things to come in the Flint community,” he said.
C-A Superintendent Steve Tunnicliff welcomed Carr back to Dye and thanked him for “the focus you have put on reading that is going to make a lifelong impact on (students).”
The three schools selected for reading centers have a high percentage of students who are not reading proficiently, said United Way Director of Community Impact Jamie-Lee Venable.
“Research shows children not reading at grade level by 3rd grade face greater academic hurdles than their counterparts,” she said.
“These centers are a resource for students that compliment their teacher’s efforts of promoting reading in a fun way.”
Carr backed an effort that United Way started about two years ago when early childhood literacy was identified as a community need, she said.
Besides donating the $10,000 check, Carr also opened access to his vast social media network to draw donations through a Crowd Funding Campaign, she said.