Organizations Honor Kansas Athletics for Service to School District

Oct. 12, 2010

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Board of Education of Lawrence Public Schools, the Lawrence Schools Foundation and Lawrence Education Achievement Partners (LEAP) honored Kansas Athletics Monday night for its service to the school district during the 2009-10 school year.

The ceremony took place during the organizations’ meeting at the district office. They named Kansas Athletics a “Master Partner,” a designation earned by providing a total of $10,000 or more to the Lawrence Public Schools in a school year, both as a LEAP partner and as a Foundation donor. Since the Lawrence Schools Foundation and the LEAP program were merged in 2007, they have recognized six organizations as “Master Partners.”

“We value the time volunteered by Kansas Athletics staff and student-athletes during the 2009-10 school year at over $80,000,” said Susan Esau, Executive Director of the Lawrence Schools Foundation and LEAP. “Kansas Athletics is an outstanding partner to the children of Lawrence.”

Jayhawk student-athletes set the standard within the Big 12 Conference for giving back to the community. Student-athletes have totaled more than 6,000 hours of community service during the past two academic years, which is equivalent to 250 straight 24-hour days of serving the community.

“When I was in elementary school here in Lawrence, I can remember how big a day it was when a Jayhawk student-athlete came to visit our classroom,” said Tayler Tolefree, a sophomore on KU’s volleyball team. “Now I really enjoy having the opportunity to visit the elementary students, be a positive role model and encourage them to be their best.”

The partnership with the Lawrence school district consists primarily of three Kansas Athletics community programs:

– Jayhawks READ program – Kansas Athletics has joined with KU Libraries to promote literacy in the Lawrence community. Kansas Athletics representatives appear on posters that are distributed to elementary-school students throughout the state. KU student-athletes make numerous visits to local elementary schools throughout the academic year to read to young students. The program launched in January 2008.

– Fun and Fitness with the Jayhawks supports the Lawrence school district’s wellness initiative. KU student-athletes motivate elementary-school students to exercise and eat well during regular visits to classrooms throughout the Lawrence community. The students receive a brochure with diet and exercise tips, and use the brochure to track their weekly activity with a “Fun and Fitness Log.” In pledging to eat healthy foods and exercise 30 minutes a day, students also get the autograph of their student-athlete “captain.”

– “Schools for Success” is a program developed by Kansas Athletics and made possible by the NCAA Women’s Basketball Grant Program. Through partnerships with community schools, Lawrence Memorial Hospital and Jason’s Deli, Kansas Athletics’ goal is to enhance attendance at and promote awareness of Kansas Women’s Basketball home games. The program includes each women’s basketball student-athlete “adopting” a Lawrence Elementary School, a season-long attendance challenge, as well as a “School Day,” during which Kansas Athletics invites local students to spend a day with the Jayhawks. The event includes educational programming provided by Kansas Athletics staff and student-athletes, and Lawrence Memorial Hospital Staff. It includes attendance at a KU women’s basketball game, lunch courtesy of Jason’s Deli, exciting halftime entertainment and a t-shirt to commemorate the occasion. That game against Oklahoma State in January 2010 drew a crowd of 6,671, comprised largely of Lawrence area elementary-school students who were energetic throughout the afternoon.

“The Schools for Success grant allowed us to create a program that benefited both the youth in the community as well as our student-athletes,” said Jennifer Allee, Assistant Athletics Director and author of the NCAA Grant Proposal. “It allowed us to bring youth to campus and provide them an opportunity to attend a NCAA Division I basketball game in Allen Fieldhouse, while at the same time creating one of the best atmospheres in the country for our student-athletes.”