International Paper Presents Coaching for Literacy’s Fight for Literacy Game With the Memphis Tigers

Memphis, TN (3.1. 2018) –  On February 11th, the Memphis Tigers Men’s Basketball team hosted the UCF Golden Knights. The contest on the floor was joined by a contest off the floor: the fight for a more literate America.


Per a recent report by the Commercial Appeal, only 21% of third-grade students in Memphis tested proficient in reading last year. On Sunday, International Paper, Memphis Men’s Basketball, and Coaching for Literacy teamed up to change that statistic by hosting a Coaching for Literacy Fight for Literacy Game.

The importance of literacy was highlighted by the attendance of International Paper’s special guests for the game: students and teachers of a local literacy organization, Memphis Teacher Residency.

“Our teachers work very hard with a bright group of young students,” said Hayley Moore, development director for MTR. “It was very gratifying to see them recognized on the court for their effort to achieve academic success”


Thanks to International Paper and Memphis basketball fans, Coaching for Literacy’s Fight for Literacy Game initiative with the Memphis Tigers netted nearly $8,000 for Memphis Teachers Residency’s MTR Camp, a summer learning initiative aiming to reduce learning regression.


“Literacy experts agree that reading over the summer is crucial to literacy growth, yet children in low-income households will fall behind their wealthier peers by three months, on average, in reading level each summer," said David Montague, executive director of Memphis Teacher Residency. "The funds raised from International Paper and Memphis Basketball fans demonstrate the collective power to affect change for the common good."

Although a Tigers game at the FedEx Forum is typically dominated by the color blue, this matchup featured Coaching for Literacy’s signature Green for Literacy apparel, worn by Head Coach Tubby Smith and the entire Memphis coaching staff. Nearly 1,000 International Paper employees joined in by sporting green shirts to reinforce the importance of reading at grade-level by the end of third grade.

“In order to truly move the needle on illiteracy in Memphis and nationwide, we must have global leaders, like International Paper, advocating for young students,” said Memphis Head Coach Tubby Smith. “International Paper’s sponsorship of the Fight for Literacy Games initiative provides hope that we can create a brighter future for children through the power of literacy.”



“International Paper is a force for good,” said Dr. Alissa Campbell Shaw, executive director of the International Paper Foundation. “We are thrilled to mobilize our people, products, and resources to support literacy efforts in Memphis and in other communities where our employees live and work.”

The Memphis-based producer of fiber-based packaging, pulp, and paper works hard to create value for generations to come.

While the end of the basketball season will bring a well-deserved break on the court, Memphis Men’s Basketball will begin their literacy efforts off it with International Paper employees. They will join together to read with students at MTR Camp this summer.

“The entire effort comes full circle when our partners read with the students they supported”, said Ryan Viner, executive director of Coaching for Literacy. “We must all follow the lead of International Paper and Memphis Basketball, asking ourselves, ‘how am I using my platform to Fight for Literacy’?”


Coaching for Literacy is partnering with more than 40 NCAA programs in this season’s Fight for Literacy Games initiative.

Thanks to the support of sports teams and generous donors, Coaching for Literacy has funded over 50 literacy projects across 20 communities in 11 states directly impacting 8,000 children.

The mission of Coaching for Literacy is to use the power of sports to raise awareness about the problem of illiteracy and generate financial support for literacy programs nationwide.


International Paper (NYSE: IP) is a leading global producer of renewable fiber-based packaging, pulp and paper products with manufacturing operations in North America, Latin America, Europe, North Africa, India and Russia. International Paper produces corrugated packaging products that protect and promote goods, and enable world-wide commerce; pulp for diapers, tissue and other personal hygiene products that promote health and wellness; and papers that facilitate education and communication.

 International Paper is headquartered in Memphis, TN. and employs approximately 52,000 colleagues located in more than 24 countries. Net sales for 2017 were $22 billion. For more information about International Paper, their products, and global citizenship efforts, please visit

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