Sept. 19, 2016
by Renee Peggs
Football teams from Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Oregon, Florida State, Michigan State and Oklahoma have spent the first two seasons stretching for that extra yard in the College Football Playoff semifinals and title games.
Meanwhile colleges from around the country--including the University of Notre Dame--again are partnering with the CFP Foundation to gain that extra yard in the classroom as part of the CFP Extra Yard for Teachers initiative.
Following record-breaking fundraising in 2015 the Notre Dame athletics department for the second consecutive year is partnering with the CFP Foundation to generate awareness of and participation in the EYFT program on campus and throughout the Notre Dame community. The University's participation in the program features the unique ability to assist the Alliance for Catholic Education program based at Notre Dame.
EYFT is a vehicle for fundraising in support of teachers and the differences they make in the lives of their students. In its first year, EYFT focused efforts toward educational resources and financial backing of teachers, students and projects in and around Glendale, Arizona, site of the 2016 CFP National Championship, in conjunction with www.DonorsChoose.org. More than $35,000 was awarded in the Glendale area to fulfill a variety of classroom needs ranging from new school supplies, books and technology to field trips and science experiment kits.
Notre Dame vice president and James E. Rohr athletics director Jack Swarbrick approached the CFP Foundation about expanding the initiative to include financial awards for teachers, students and schools on a national scale, rather than limiting beneficiaries to the schools in the city playing host to the college football playoffs and championship game. Last fall, EYFT resources and funding were made available across the country, with activations on many college campuses. More than 400 teacher projects were funded during EYFT Awareness Week, benefiting almost 40,000 students nationally. Notre Dame raised more than any other university in the nation, with donations in excess of $390,515.
Thanks to the expansion proposed by Swarbrick, the CFP Foundation now designates a national EYFT Week each fall (Sept. 17-24 in 2016), during which individual or corporate donors may select from a host of educational needs as submitted by teachers from around the country. Donors have the opportunity to choose both the projects to which they would like to contribute and the platform through which to make their contributions. Special websites and text-to-donate numbers are made available during activation periods.
The CFP Foundation supports each campus' own donation and fundraising efforts through donation matching and flash funding--making an even more significant impact in direct provision of educational resources.
"Our mission is to recognize and support our teachers, whose dedication and amazing efforts make a difference in the lives of so many," says Britton Banowsky, executive director of the CFP Foundation. "Providing resources is critical and we are proud to partner with ESPN and with our friends at DonorsChoose.org to make this happen in so many classrooms across the country."
Coinciding with home football games on college campuses, various activations allow the CFP Foundation to maximize its nationwide philanthropic impact. Activations include in-stadium public service announcements recognizing the importance of the teaching profession and saluting those who dedicate their lives to education; digital logos for stadium video boards, promoting EYFT and local projects for donors to support; customizable tools for local social media promotions; helmet decals for players and patches for coaching staff to wear during EYFT designated football games.
Notre Dame offers its fans the chance to support ACE, a unique program designed to give at-risk students a fighting chance for a better future by recruiting and forming talented teachers and school leaders. The formation offered through the ACE program allows educators to develop their pedagogical and leadership skills to enhance their effectiveness in the classrooms and schools. ACE also is committed to strengthening and transforming Catholic schools across the nation in order to make the Catholic school advantage a reality for thousands of new families which otherwise would not have that opportunity for their children. Additionally, ACE provides much-needed classroom materials to under-resourced Catholic schools, ensuring that education in disadvantaged areas does not in turn leave children behind.
Last year, the EYFT initiative was able to match $50,000 of donations from the Notre Dame family. ACE teachers from 16 different schools were awarded grants through a competitive process to provide their students with Chromebooks, graphing calculators, new desks, athletic uniforms, field trip experiences, school supplies and many other educational materials.
This year, the CFP Foundation has agreed to match Notre Dame donations up to $100,000, all of which will benefit the ACE program and its educators and partner schools.
In order to achieve this fundraising goal, Irish fans have an extended timeframe for donating. Between Sept. 18 and Nov. 21 all donations made to ACE will be matched (up to a $100,000 gift) by the CFP Foundation. Gifts to ACE of $10 or more also will make contributors eligible for a lottery to win the opportunity to purchase two tickets for the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship game Jan. 9 in Tampa, Florida.
A special tailgate reception on campus today honored present and former ACE teachers, as well as the program faculty and staff. ACE teachers will be recognized on the field during a timeout in today's Notre Dame-Duke football game.
Through the vehicle of EYFT in partnership with the CFP Foundation, Notre Dame also has established a partnership with St. Adalbert Catholic School, a grade school in the heart of South Bend. The school is an apostolate of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, making it a natural choice for a relationship with the University. In the Holy Cross tradition of education, St. Adalbert seeks to provide a quality learning environment, Catholic religious experience and service opportunities to educate the heart and mind of all of its students. St. Adalbert principal Andrew Currier and assistant principal Jenny O'Donnell both are graduates of the ACE program at Notre Dame.
One of the goals of EYFT is to promote a college-going culture in classrooms nationwide, especially in under-served areas and under-resourced schools. Earlier this week a banner ceremony was held at St. Adalbert to honor and celebrate its teachers. Members of the Notre Dame community in attendance included Paqui Kelly (wife of Irish head football coach Brian Kelly), Kate Sobrero Markgraf (former Olympic women's soccer gold medalist, member of the 1995 Notre Dame women's soccer NCAA title team, current ESPN soccer analyst and Notre Dame Monogram Club board member), the Irish cheerleading team and leprechaun and various executive staff members. Kelly and Markgraf spoke to St. Adalbert students about the importance of education and the role of college graduation in future success.
Dedicated to celebrating teachers across the country, the Extra Yard for Teachers initiative elevates the teaching profession by inspiring and empowering quality teachers. In partnering with universities and colleges like Notre Dame, the College Football Playoff Foundation makes a significant impact across the country through philanthropic educational efforts.
Renee Peggs is free-lance contributor from South Bend.