Rays announce return of Reading with the Rays Program

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.- Evan Longoria and the Rays Baseball Foundation have teamed up with the Suncoast Credit Union Foundation for this year's "Reading with the Rays - Read Your Way to the Ballpark" program. 

This summer, the Suncoast Credit Union Foundation, Longoria and the Rays Baseball Foundation will host the seventh season of Reading with the Rays, an incentive-based reading program that encourages kids to avoid summer learning loss by reading 24 hours during the summer months. Participating libraries track kids' progress and award prizes for reaching certain goals, including a free ticket to a Rays game. Reading with the Rays is made possible with the help of the Tampa Bay Times Newspaper in Education and public library systems in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Citrus, Polk, Pasco, Hernando, Sarasota and Charlotte counties.

"Reading with the Rays has grown to become a pillar of our community outreach efforts," Rays Senior Vice President Mark Fernandez said. "We are proud to be joined by our partners at Suncoast Credit Union in delivering this program to more children than ever and significantly impacting reading development over the summer months throughout our region."

The program will officially begin on Sunday, June 8 with the inclusion of the Reading with the Rays insert in the Sunday Edition of the Tampa Bay Times. Kids can pick up their Reading with the Rays game card at a participating library to begin reading around the bases anytime on or after June 8. Representatives from the Suncoast Credit Union Foundation, the Rays Baseball Foundation and all participating county libraries will be on hand to officially kick off the program prior to the Rays-Mariners 1:40 p.m. game on June 8.

"Reading with the Rays compliments our mission of supporting educational initiatives for children in the local community," says Mary Tlachac, executive director of Suncoast Credit Union Foundation. "Reading is a wise investment of time and because there are many benefits to establishing reading habits at an early age, we believe this program will encourage and excite children to read beyond the school year."

Evan Longoria, the program's spokesperson, will make surprise visits to local libraries in the weeks following the kick-off. For more information about the program, visit raysbaseball.com/reading

About Suncoast Credit Union Foundation

Suncoast Credit Union is the largest credit union in the state of Florida, the ninth largest in the United States based on membership and the 15th largest in the United States based on its $5.5 billion in assets. Suncoast Credit Union Foundation is sponsored entirely by Suncoast Credit Union, allowing 100 percent of funds contributed to go directly to the organizations and initiatives that assist children in the communities the credit union serves. In 2013, Suncoast Credit Union Foundation provided $1.7 million in funding and grants for a total of $11 million since its inception in 1992. For more information visit: suncoastcreditunion.com, facebook.com/SuncoastCreditUnion, or twitter.com/SuncoastCU.

About Rays Baseball Foundation

The Rays Baseball Foundation, the official charity of the Tampa Bay Rays, focuses primarily on youth and education programs in the Tampa Bay region that make a measurable difference in the community. Key contributors to the Foundation include Rays owners, players, sponsors, fans and employees. Among the players who contributed to the Foundation in 2014 are Grant Balfour, David DeJesus, Ryan Hanigan, Evan Longoria, James Loney, Jose Molina, Joel Peralta and Ben Zobrist.