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Jonathan Wilfong – SMU

Founder, Coaching For Literacy

Road to Greatness


In 12th grade, Memphis University School (Memphis, Tennessee) faculty member Spencer Reese challenged his students to make a difference. Two students took that call to heart – Andrew Renshaw and Texas Delta Phi and SMU basketball player Jonathan Wilfong.

The program has made a positive impact in its short history – raising awareness about the issue of illiteracy and gathering financial support for effective literacy programs both in Memphis, Tennessee and nationwide. Coaching for Literacy aims to ensure that every child has the opportunity to determine their future, that they are not locked in their beginnings and thus have a say in their endings. We firmly believe that every individual possesses inerrant dignity and worth; thus, we strive to ensure individuals are functionally literate. Coaching for Literacy partners with athletic programs and literacy programs through its Assistant Coach Program to achieve this aim.

The premise of Coaching for Literacy’s Assistant Coach Program is simple: an individual or corporate sponsor provides financial support to literacy efforts and in exchange gets to be an “Assistant Coach” during a sporting event. Access to the home team locker room prior to the game, premium seating, autographed memorabilia, a picture with the head coach, school specific apparel provided by CFL partner Peter Millar, and admittance to the postgame press conference are perks that typically constitute the “Assistant Coach” experience. Proceeds raised from the event go towards funding early intervention literacy initiatives local to the partnering athletic program and Coaching for Literacy’s Memphis based literacy partners: Memphis Teacher Residency and Streets Ministries.

In closing, the problem of illiteracy is colossal and must be addressed. Coaching for Literacy relies on partnering with collegiate and professional sports teams for the program to succeed and give the opportunity of success to children struggling with illiteracy. It is an excellent opportunity for sports teams to enrich their communities and offer fans a unique game-day experience.

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