CINCINNATI — Now that the Bengals and their longtime head coach have parted company, FC Cincinnati is stepping up to continue the signature program of the Marvin Lewis Community Fund.
Lewis’s “Learning Is Cool” program, in its 11th year, will continue through the FC Cincinnati Foundation once the current school year ends, according to a release from the Major League Soccer club.
Calling Lewis a friend and mentor from his NFL days in the Bengals organization, FC Cincinnati President and General Manager Jeff Berding said he not only considered it “an honor, but also a responsibility, to ensure we continue Marvin’s amazing work and extend his legacy in our community.”
For his part, Lewis said he is “excited to be passing the torch to the FC Cincinnati Foundation’s portfolio of community engagement.”
“We believe they will nourish and develop the program under their umbrella to build upon its success for many years to come,” said Lewis, whose 16 years as Bengals head coach ended in January. Lewis started his community fund after taking the job in 2003.
More than 31,000 students are involved in the academic achievement incentive program offered in the Cincinnati Public Schools, Covington Independent Public Schools, North College Hill and Middletown City Schools. It provides scholarships through the Marvin Lewis Golf Classic and rewards students who make the honor roll.
Berding, who also serves as president of the FC Cincinnati Foundation, cited his personal relationship with Lewis and experience growing up on the West Side for wanting to pick up the torch.
“Marvin’s openness to share the team side of the business with me when we worked together at the Bengals greatly helped me prepare for my role today with FCC,” Berding said.
“When I was a child growing up in Westwood, I participated in the Reds’ Straight-A Program and it was a big motivator for me that I could go see Reds games as a reward for excellent grades. I know how impactful programs like these are, so between my relationship with Marvin and my own personal experience with this type of academic incentive, it was an absolute no-brainer for us to pursue this program and bring it to the FC Cincinnati family.”
“Marvin Lewis and MLCF have done wonderful work in our community, and Learning is Cool is a great example," said Katie Blackburn, Bengals executive vice president. "We are proud of the role the Bengals and our players have had in helping to support this program and we’re glad to see it will continue.”
The Marvin Lewis Community Fund has raised nearly $12 million for educational and outreach programs, according to its website.
To learn more about the FC Cincinnati Foundation and to support Learning Is Cool and its other programs, visit fccincinnati.com/foundation.