CARROLL COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — He’s been named one of the top six smartest athletes. Now Baltimore Raven Matt Birk wants kids to hit the books.

Jessica Kartalija has more.

It’s no secret Matt Birk has more on his mind than just football. He graduated from an Ivy League university and wants kids to put education first.

Birk ditched the gridiron Tuesday to do a little reading with students at Taneytown Elementary.

“Really, the basis of all education is reading,” Birk said.

The Harvard graduate is in Carroll County launching a new campaign called “Ready, Set, Read!” It’s all part of his HIKE Foundation, which stands for “Hope, Inspiration, Knowledge and Education.”

“What we are trying to encourage is kids to read outside of school. We set goals for them, so much time per day. We have them write journals to me on how their reading is going,” Birk said.

Every student will receive a notebook to track the number of minutes they read. Students can earn prizes like Ravens jerseys, footballs and, of course, books.

“The grand prize at the end of the year, we take two kids from every school here in Carroll County, we bring them to the stadium for a tour, we have lunch at Morton’s and it’s just a great day,” Birk said.

Birk launched “Ready, Set, Read!” in Baltimore-area schools last fall.

Matt Birk started the HIKE Foundation in 2002.


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