Web Exclusive | September 2016 | By Alex Dixon

Pizza Hut’s Plan to Help 100 Million People

Within 10 years, the company hopes to improve literacy across the globe.
Actor Rico Rodriguez, from Modern Family, is supporting The Literacy Project by serving as project ambassador. Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut has launched a new campaign aimed at increasing literacy for 100 million people over the next 10 years, expanding on the company’s literacy work since its BOOK IT! Program began in 1984.

Called Pizza Hut: The Literacy Project, the campaign will coordinate community fundraising across Pizza Hut locations to enable access to literary resources. The Literacy Project launch coincides with International Literacy Day on September 8, though fundraising will be year round.

Company president Artie Starrs says in an email that since BOOK IT! started 32 years ago, more than 65 million kids have been part of the program and that he believes The Literacy Project will make BOOK IT! even stronger.

“Nearly 1 billion people worldwide cannot read a sentence. This very sentence,” he says. “Pizza Hut believes that by providing access to resources for literacy and reading, we will help people thrive, translating into stronger local economies and communities.”

Pizza Hut is encouraging customers to donate to the campaign online and in restaurants, with donation amounts such as $3 for a brand new book, $5 for school supplies, and $10 for a backpack of books.

Pizza Hut has partnered with First Book—a nonprofit that provides disadvantaged children with new books—for the campaign. Funds raised will provide educators with credits to the First Book Marketplace for selected schools and programs located near Pizza Hut restaurants.

“We want everyone to have the opportunity to become their best. We believe literacy is one of the strongest (ways) to do that,” Starrs says in an email. “Proving access to, and love for, reading is something that can benefit people in every aspect of their life, and we feel The Literacy Project carries the right message to have the greatest impact.”

Pizza Hut employees and franchise partners are encouraged to get involved with the campaign by finding volunteer opportunities at locations such as churches, schools, or libraries to build book cases, develop reading nooks or read to members of the community on September 8.

“We are incredibly passionate about the communities where we have restaurants and our team members couldn’t be more excited about giving back locally,” Bill Walsh, president of Pizza Hut franchisee Daland Corporation, adds in a statement. “BOOK IT! has created the perfect platform to inspire readers in our communities.”

Starrs says that Pizza Hut, franchisees and customers have contributed “tens of millions of dollars toward literacy through the BOOK IT! Program and will continue to support this with resources moving forward.”

Countries currently participating in The Literacy Project include the U.S., Brazil, South Africa, and Costa Rica. According to Pizza Hut, additional countries and locations will be added throughout the campaign.

Pizza Hut has released an accompanying video for the project, which can be found at theliteracyproject.pizzahut.com

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