Evan Longoria, Rays and Suncoast Credit Union partner for Reading with the Rays

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

This summer, Suncoast Credit Union, Longoria and the Rays will host the eighth 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 two free tickets 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 once again 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 14 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 14. Representatives from Suncoast Credit Union, the Rays and all participating county libraries will be on hand to officially kick off the program prior to the Rays-Red Sox 1:10 p.m. game on June 28.

"Reading is fundamental to living well and our Foundation supports fun and engaging forms of education like Reading with the Rays," said Cindy Helton, executive director of Suncoast Credit Union Foundation. "Time spent encouraging kids to read means that we are participating in their ability to learn and that is a goal we gladly join with the Rays to achieve."

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