Diagramming X’s and O’s for a Sunday matchup is a common routine for Head Coach Marvin Lewis, but it’s not the only plan he’s fostering.

Since he was hired by the Cincinnati Bengals 10 years ago, Lewis has helped grow the Marvin Lewis Community Fund into an important player in the community. After a decade of work, MLCF has raised more than $7 million and supported 425,000 people throughout the Tristate. While his charitable efforts span a diverse cross section of the city, helping children maximize their education is MLCF’s premier initiative.

“Education makes lives better,” says Lewis. “That’s why we coach. Whether it’s football players or kids in school.”

MLCF’s “Learning is Cool” program is one of Lewis’ most visible programs. It incorporates 28,000 students from grades one through 12 at Cincinnati Public, Covington Independent, North College Hill and Middletown public schools.

Learning is Cool encourages students to reach their full potential by offering a variety of enticements like gift certificates, prizes and visits from Cincinnati Bengals like Domata Peko, Andrew Whitworth and Leon Hall.

The motivating factors have resulted in 6,288 children qualifying for the Academic Achievement Celebration by making the “A” honor roll twice during the school year.

Barbara Dundee has served as executive director at the MLCF for 4 1/2 years and believes Lewis’ philanthropic efforts surpass other head coaches in all professional sports.

She says most professional teams have a foundation that supports community efforts. Many of those coaches are contractually obligated to make a certain number of appearances at events every year, but Lewis has no such requirement and started his own instead.

“This organization is unique compared to similar ones in major sports,” says Dundee. “He’s definitely one of the most active coaches in the NFL.”

MLCF also recognizes and honors outstanding male and female student athletes on an annual basis. The Marvin Lewis Scholarship Fund has awarded $1.2 million in scholarship funds to students throughout the Tristate. Candidates are evaluated on GPA, commitment to community, financial need and a 1,000-word essay.

Along with his education pursuits for youths, Lewis also hosts an annual football camp that teaches fundamentals and allows young fans to play football in Paul Brown Stadium for one night. Lewis, members of the Bengals coaching staff and volunteer coaches instruct more than 300 kids on the fundamentals of football for three days in the summer.

MLCF’s efforts support the region in a diverse manner, but Lewis believes the community and his supportive staff underpin the whole operation

“This region is one of the most philanthropic in the country and the support from the community has been unbelievably generous,” says Lewis. “We couldn’t do what we do without the amazing financial and in-kind support that we continue to support.”

So far, it is a winning game plan for Lewis and the community.