The first weekend of December was a big weekend for ACC football fans. Thousands of out-of-towners, school mascots and even ESPN College Game Day flocked to the Queen City for the Dr. Pepper Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship Game. However, before Clemson and Miami fans were storming the streets in their team swag, United Way of Central Carolinas was working with the ACC in the months leading up to the game to encourage and improve student reading in Charlotte- Mecklenburg schools.


In 2015, the ACC and UWCC came together to form a five year partnership to support student literacy through the ACC United Way Reading Challenge. With a focus on improving reading proficiency at five selected CMS schools, the program enticed students to increase time spent reading with the chance to not only attend the big game at Bank of America Stadium, but to be honored on the field during the game.


Participating Schools:

  • Barringer Academic Center
  • Dorothy J. Vaughan Academy of Technology
  • Nathaniel Alexander Elementary
  • Paw Creek Elementary
  • Renaissance West STEAM Academy


To kick off the weekend, on Friday, December 1, students from all five schools gathered in the Renaissance West STEAM Academy gymnasium as mascots from each ACC school joined the students to celebrate their accomplishments.


Emceed by Charlotte’s own Fly Ty, the students were recognized for their amazing efforts throughout the challenge while participating in the coolest pep rally we’ve ever seen. United Way Executive Director, Sean Garrett, played a huge role by reading “The Book with No Pictures” to the children as the ACC mascots acted it out.


In addition to rewarding these hard-working students with a fun assembly, the ACC presented the principals of each school with a $5,000 gift cards.


Friday was just the beginning of the weekend fun, the following morning the Charlotte community was up bright and early for the ACC Fan 5k. Though it was a little chilly, a number of United Way staff and volunteers came out to participate in the run. Sean Garrett, who placed second in his age group, was one of the many staffers seen crossing the finish line next. Our team and volunteers also assisted with medal distribution and the award presentation ceremony. Promoting a healthy lifestyle, the blue ‘Live United’ shirts were spotted in masses throughout the morning.


Following the ACC Fan 5K was the ACC Fan Fest, and of course, the Dr. Pepper ACC Football Championship Game where all schools from our reading challenge were recognized on field for their hard-work and determination.