MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Every Tuesday, as part of our Community Changers series, we highlight organizations making Memphis better. This week, we caught up with a group that believes the ability to read changes everything.

Coaching for Literacy is a non-profit organization that uses the powerful platform of sports teams to raise awareness of childhood literacy. In Memphis, almost 80 percent of third graders are not reading on grade level.

Jason Baker, the Executive Director of development and marketing, says kids are capable. “They just need access, they need opportunity. And they need someone to encourage them.”

Annie Hunt is with the Memphis Teacher Residency. They partner with Coaching for Literacy during summer reading camps.  She has seen first hand how the inability to read impacts everything.

“It is a crisis. If you can’t do word problems, now math is now a problem. If you can’t read, you can’t analyze a scientific method, now science is a problem.”

University of Memphis men’s basketball player Alex Lomax partners with the organization and reads to students at Cornerstone Prep, a school he used to attend.

“Lomax is a hometown hero, so there’s nobody better who we would want standing in front of kids and encouraging them,” said Baker.

The athlete says it was an honor and hopes the kids enjoy reading as much as he does. “It’s about creating good habits.”

That is why Brown Missionary Baptist Church wants to give Coaching For Literacy $1,000 because it is one thing for your parents and teachers to tell you the importance of reading. It is way cooler to hear it from star athletes.

For more information about Coaching for Literacy, visit their website here.