Pilot Flying J and Haslam Family Foundation donate $1.3 million to Knox County high school marching bands, academics

August 17, 2017

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 17, 2017) – Pilot Flying J and the Haslam Family Foundation are donating a total of $1.3 million to Knox County Schools to support the marching band programs and academics at each of the district’s 13 high schools.

Pilot Flying J’s gift of $650,000 includes a $50,000 donation to each high school’s marching band program to purchase new or refreshed uniforms, instruments and/or equipment. The Haslam Family Foundation also is donating an additional $650,000, with $50,000 going to each high school to invest in materials or activities that will enhance the academic experience and outcomes for students.

“Pilot Flying J and the Haslam family are known for their generosity, and we’re grateful that their focus on giving back starts at home in Knoxville,” Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas said. “Our marching band programs enrich student participants through music education, discipline and teamwork, and they enhance our entire school communities through their performances. The matching investment in academics allows our schools to continue to pursue new, needed and creative ways to enhance learning for thousands of students.”

This gift to Knox County Schools follows a $10 million donation made by Pilot Flying J and the Haslam family in 2015 to refurbish and modernize the high school football fields over a 36-month period. The gift included a $1.3 million investment in academic support, comprising $100,000 for each high school based on proposals from the school principals.

“The Haslam family is proud to call Knoxville both our home and the headquarters for our company,” Pilot Flying J Director of Giving Back Will Haslam said. “When we think of school pride, we think of the marching bands and their dedication. The new turf fields were a gift to all the students and student-athletes who use them, and that’s also where the bands showcase their talent. These talented students embody the meaning of school spirit. We’re honored to support these students and their families, many of whom are guests at our stores, friends and neighbors and among the more than 1,200 Pilot Flying J team members who live and raise their families here.”

The $50,000 for each school’s marching band program will be awarded based on a one-page budget proposal from the band director. For programs that don’t have an immediate need, and for example, may have recently purchased new uniforms, the school can propose to save part or all of the funds for future needs. Each high school principal also has submitted a budget proposal for the $50,000 donation toward academics, and those funds must be used for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year. The gifts will be awarded by Pilot Flying J and the Haslam Family Foundation following approval from Knox County Schools Board of Education at the Sept. 13 meeting.

“Our family is energized by seeing young people excel in school, as well as sports, music and other team activities,” Pilot Flying J Founder and Chairman Jim Haslam II said. “These students are our community’s future leaders, whatever passions they pursue and whether they start their own company or perhaps join the team at Pilot Flying J someday. We have a special opportunity to contribute to their education and development, and we are honored to do so.”

The commitment to install artificial turf fields and make other field improvements at the 13 high schools allows for a variety of high school athletics to be played year-round, as well as the hosting of community events. The three-year process of updating the fields is well underway. Upgrades were completed at Bearden, Central, Farragut, Fulton and Powell high schools in 2016 and at Carter, Gibbs, Halls and South-Doyle high schools in 2017. New fields are slated for Austin-East, Hardin Valley, Karns and West high schools in 2018.

“On behalf of the more than 1,350 students in our high school marching bands, thank you to Pilot Flying J and the Haslam family,” Knox County Schools Music and Dance Specialist Walter Mencer Jr. said. “Band helps shape these young adults as they pursue college and careers, providing our students not only with invaluable music education, but also promoting exercise, creativity, memorization and multi-tasking skills, hard work, self-discipline, sense of community and pride. Support of our bands is a powerful investment in our youth.”

Pilot Flying J is a strong supporter of education at all levels. In addition to support for local schools, Pilot Flying J and the Haslam family have supported higher education, primarily through leading donations to the University of Tennessee. For more information about Pilot Flying J, visit www.pilotflyingj.com.

For more information:
Anne LeZotte
Senior Comm. Manager
Pilot Flying J
[email protected]

Carly Harrington
Knox County Schools
[email protected]

About Pilot Flying J

Pilot Flying J, the largest operator of travel centers in North America, is committed to connecting people and places with comfort, care and a smile at every stop. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, Pilot Flying J has more than 750 retail locations in 43 states, more than 85 roadside assistance trucks and growing as part of its Truck Care Program, 44 Goodyear Commercial Tire and Service Centers, and 35 Boss Shops. The Pilot Flying J network provides drivers with access to more than 70,000 parking spaces for trucks, 4,900 showers and more than 5,000 diesel lanes offering Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) at the pump. Pilot Flying J is currently ranked No. 15 on Forbes’ list of America’s Largest Private Companies. Visit www.pilotflyingj.com for more information.