Build a brain. Build a life. Build a community.
The words may be catchy, but the Studer Community Institute believes they are more than that. The Institute’s work aims to make those words change lives, change the Pensacola area and change the world.
That’s why Studer Community Institute is proud to host the Light Up Learning fundraiser on June 22 at Sanders Beach Corinne Jones Community Center beginning at 5:30 p.m. The event will include live music, early learning inspired food, live and silent auctions and more.
Sponsorship registration HERE. Individual and table tickets will be available June 1.
The fundraiser will include auction items such as:
— A trip for two to Chicago to see a Bears home game as Sitton’s guest, including sideline passes, airfare, hotel, VIP helicopter tour and more.
— A private dinner for 12 prepared at SoGourmet by Union Public House chef Blake Rushing.
— Autographed merchandise from Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Bubba Watson and many more.
The roots of the Light Up Learning fundraiser go back to 2014. That year, when the Studer Community Institute staff’s research began, two numbers stood out about our community: Only 66 percent of children in Escambia County were ready for kindergarten. Only 66 percent of kids were graduating high school on time.
That research also led the Institute to the University of Chicago, where researchers were arriving at the same conclusion — that the quality of a child’s early education experience has a profound influence not only on his academic progress, but also on his economic progress.
That’s because 85 percent of a child’s brain is developed by age 3, and 95 percent of the brain is developed by age 5. That early childhood experience is the foundation for a child’s progress in school — and life. Children who have an early childhood full of parent talk and bedtime stories and positive, loving interaction with an adult have a stronger foundation than those who do not have those things.
With the goal in mind to help parents prepare their children during their most vital years of learning, SCI created a road map to create an “Early Learning City” and shared it with Dr. John List, the chairman of the economics department at the University of Chicago.
List believes this can change the world. So do we.
But first, we need to change Escambia County. This will take execution and focus.
The Light Up Learning fundraiser aims to support the Institute’s work to make an Early Learning City happen with existing organizations and businesses working together in three key areas:
— Brain development education for Escambia County mothers within 24 hours of childbirth.
— Parent education for children living within our county’s pockets of poverty.
—Building learning into the external environment across the community.
The event features SCI board member, Pensacola native and Chicago Bears offensive lineman Josh Sitton, who graduated from Catholic High School. Sitton was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the fourth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He was part of the Packers team that beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. He signed a three-year contract with the Bears in 2016.
My wife and I are truly blessed to be able to give back to the community that we call home,” says Sitton. “We believe the positive development of Pensacola’s youth is paramount to the success of our city’s future.
“We are excited to help continue the effort and investment the Studers have made in this great community!” Sitton says. “We look forward to the impact the Studer Community Institute will have going forward.”
Joining Sitton in attendance at the event:
— Seattle Seahawks wide receiver and Gulf Breeze native Doug Baldwin. Baldwin was an undrafted free agent from Stanford University selected by the Seahawks in 2011, and was part of the team that won Super Bowl XLVIII.
— Fred Robbins, Tate High graduate, played for 12 years in the NFL. Robbins played at Wake Forest University and was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2000. He played for the New York Giants and was part of the Giants’ Super Bowl XLII championship team. He ended his career with the St Louis Rams. His Pensacola philanthropy, Mr. Robbins Neighborhood, provides guidance and mentorship to young athletes.
— Former Green Bay Packers All-Pro linebacker AJ Hawk. When Hawk retired in 2017, he was the Packers’ all-time leading tackler.
— Chicago Bears running back and 2017 Pro Bowler Jordan Howard, who ran for more than 1,300 yards last year.
— Cody Whitehair, starting center for Chicago Bears. Whitehair was a 2016 second round draft pick who was named to the Pro Football Writer’s Association All-Rookie Team.
— 1993 Heisman Trophy winner and 11-year National Basketball Association veteran Charlie Ward. Ward was a standout quarterback at Florida State University, where he won the Heisman Trophy, and was a standout basketball player. He played for the New York Knicks from 1994-2004.
— Matt Flynn, a quarterback who was in Sitton’s draft class in Green Bay. Flynn was Super Bowl champion and starting quarterback for 2007 Louisiana State University National Championship team.