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When we think of reading, we often assume that everyone knows how to read, but this isn’t entirely true.

Michael Irving & Emmitt Smith attend Tackle Tomorrow Poker night fundraiser. Photo by Anthony Roland

According to, on average 79 percent of US adults are literate in 2022, but 21 percent are illiterate. On average, 66 percent of fourth-grade children in the U.S. could not read proficiently in 2013.

There is still lots of room for improvement. Former NFL player and Five-Time Super Bowl Champion Charles Haley, alongside Bob Bowie, the Founders of the Tackle Tomorrow Foundation, are making it their duty to change these statistics in South Dallas. Like some of the children that he wants to help with his foundation, he was raised in a low-income household and struggled with education reading three grade levels behind his peers before attending James Madison University, but he tackled this with the help of football coaches and professors throughout his career which resulted in amazing confidence and reading levels. As an NFL Hall of Famer, Haley is now focused on giving back by providing young students with the resources and technology they need to tackle literacy challenges.

So, what is the Tackle Tomorrow Foundation? It’s a literacy movement. 

“It’s about education and reading with kids tested in the third grade. If they aren’t reading on grade level, then that’s how they build prisons so, we wanted to affect change,” says Haley.

Players at Tackle Tomorrow Poker night fundraiser. Photo by Anthony Roland

Tackle Tomorrow provides reading coaches that bring many years of experience in public education and specialized expertise in reading instruction. Each school’s reading coach facilitates and implements program goals and objectives in close collaboration with the teaching staff. Tackle Tomorrow also provides a national award-winning software called Istation to schools in the Dallas Independent School District. Some of the essentials that this software provides include listening comprehension, letter knowledge, vocabulary, spelling, and word analysis.  

“We bring books into the school, we bring technology, English and Spanish software, we provide computers, we do a bike drive for the best reader, and then we also do food drives for Thanksgiving and Christmas for the community. You know, you can only build a child if you build the community,” expresses Haley.

Dallas Cowboy memorabilia items for auction Tackle Tomorrow Poker night fundraiser. Photo by Anthony Roland

As you may be wondering, where can children join this program? As of right now, the program is only working in the South Dallas sector including schools, Paul L. Dunbar Learning Center, H.I. Holland Elementary, and Whitney M. Young Jr Elementary.

The foundation just hosted a charity poker tournament that had some big names in attendance such as Emmitt Smith, Ed “Too Tall Jones”, and Drew Pearson.  

“We had a lot of great guys show up…It’s not about black or white, rich or poor, it’s about the haves and have nots. Those with an education move forward, those that don’t stay in poverty or go to prison”, says Haley.

The foundation has upcoming events such as the 7th Annual Tackle Tomorrow Today Celebrity Golf Tournament and A Night with Legends Charity Dinner.

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