Rashaad Coward is a self-described numbers guy, and he'd like Bears fans to help him pass on that love to underserved youth.
Coward is raising money for the STEM + Literacy program at Lincoln Middle School in East Chicago, Indiana. For his work, Coward was recognized as the Week 2 NFLPA Community MVP.
Working through Athletes for Charity, Coward's program asks fans to pledge a recurring donation for every touchdown the Bears score this season. To get the ball rolling, the NFLPA donated $10,000 to the school.
On September 17, Coward drove down to the school with 100 textbooks to distribute to students. The Community MVP is only awarded for efforts independent of team and league initiatives. Coward started raising money for Lincoln Middle School on his own initiative.
So how did the swing tackle for the Chicago Bears become interested in a middle school in northwest Indiana? It all came down to his roots.
Coward was born and raised in New York City and attended public school. As a student he was drawn to science and math, being generally interested in dealing with numbers. When a fellow transplanted New Yorker connected to Lincoln reached out, it seemed like a perfect fit. He was impressed by the faculty at the school, which reminded him of his old middle school in Brooklyn.
During one of his visits to the school, he was able to meet one-on-one with two students. He offered them advice touching on home life, dealing with problems and the virtues of STEM education.
"I told them," said Coward, "if your reading skills are low, the science will help while you're still dealing with numbers. So, it will be less intimidating. That's how I took it when I was growing up."
Athletes for Charity has a season-long goal to raise $20,000 for Lincoln Middle School. Donations and pledges come with a variety of rewards, which can be found here.