EdZone program begins impacting Charlottesville youth through distribution of essential needs items
Charlottesville, VA — On Wednesday, November 30th, the Chris Long Foundation and Charlottesville City Schools officially launched the latest component of the Foundation’s new EdZone program: the distribution of essential needs items at all six CCS elementary schools during the 2022-2023 school year.
Each elementary school (Burnley-Moran, Clark, Greenbrier, Jackson-Via, Johnson, Venable) will identify a dedicated space (an “EdZone closet”) where students can access basic supplies that many other students take for granted. Essential needs items include things like soap, shampoo, a toothbrush and toothpaste, menstrual hygiene products, deodorant, clean socks and underwear, and seasonal items like umbrellas, hats, and gloves.
In close consultation with participating schools to assess and determine student needs, CCS’ Coordinator of Family and Student Engagement will procure and distribute these essential needs items to the elementary schools through a central storeroom at the CCS Division Administrative Annex at Charlottesville High School. Elementary school students in need will be identified by professional staff who are already supporting them on a daily basis (e.g., school administrators, teachers, counselors, nurses, social workers) and can help them access items from the EdZone closet in a way that respects their dignity and privacy. The Foundation has future plans to support periodic drive-through “Response to Essential Needs” events at Charlottesville High School, where all CCS families can pick up bags of essential needs items and grocery cards.
“There’s evidence that students who are not getting these basic needs met can suffer from stress and low self-esteem. It can cause them to feel disconnected from their classmates and even miss school, all of which affects how they feel about being at school and ultimately, their performance,” said Chris Long, founder of the Chris Long Foundation. “The goal of our EdZone partnership with CCS is to support student success by ensuring kids arrive at school comfortable, confident, and ready to learn.”
“We are so appreciative of the support from the Chris Long Foundation, with their vision for meeting students’ needs in ways that are respectful. The EdZone closets will make a big impact,” commented Chantel Beverly, principal at Venable Elementary School, which is hosting the program launch.
Superintendent Dr. Royal Gurley agreed: “When I arrived at Charlottesville City Schools last year, the wide diversity of our students’ experiences was immediately apparent. One step toward eradicating academic disparities is to truly make our students feel welcome, supported, and equipped to succeed. We thank Chris Long and the Foundation for being such good partners in this work.”
A generous group of local individual donors, foundations, and businesses stepped up to fully fund the launch of EdZone. Funders include Better Living Building Supply, Woodard Properties, Diane and Howie Long, Pam and Frank Edmonds, the Genan Foundation, Ellen and Michael Geismar, and Frank Saul Construction.
EdZone is the newest program created by the Chris Long Foundation to advance educational equity issues in communities around the United States. Over the next year the program will expand to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and St. Louis, Missouri, two cities where Long played in the NFL. EdZone also distributes high-quality, culturally-relevant books in schools to advance student literacy and develop a lifelong love of reading. In May 2022, in partnership with FirstBook and Charlottesville City Schools, the Foundation distributed over 2,500 books at Burnley-Moran Elementary School. Chris Long served as a guest reader for the event and engaged with students about his own school experience, his family and interests, and his time in the NFL. The Foundation also supported two CCS “Response to Essential Needs” drive-through events in December 2020 and December 2021.
About the Chris Long Foundation
The Chris Long Foundation is a nonprofit, founded by two-time Super Bowl Champion and 2018 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year, Chris Long. By bringing together a community of elite athletes and passionate fans, the Chris Long Foundation relentlessly serves our overlooked neighbors, both domestic and international, by creating solutions for clean water and education access. Visit www.chrislongfoundation.org to find out more.
About Charlottesville City Schools
Charlottesville City Schools serves approximately 4500 students in nine schools, from three-year-olds in preschool to students who qualify for services after high school. By meeting each student’s personal and academic needs, the schools are committed to ending the predictability of life outcomes based on factors such as race and poverty. Learn more at charlottesvilleschools.org.