MESSAGE FROM ROLAND:
During my 8-year NFL career, I have been fortunate enough to play in some of the biggest games in football. From Monday Night Football thrillers to Super Bowl glory, I know that to win the biggest games, you need:
-An intelligent game plan
-An emphasis on teamwork
who will do what it takes to win.
Right now, there is an urgent and critical game being played in my hometown of Rochester, NY that has brought me to tears and requires immediate
Said simply, young males ages 13-18 in Rochester, NY are in unprecedented crisis. In addition to chronic school absenteeism, rampant incarceration and employability numbers on the decline, recent reports have also confirmed that ROCHESTER, NY HAS THE LOWEST HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATES OF BLACK & LATINO MALES IN AMERICA.
With a population of a little more than 200,000, this mid-size city falls behind Detroit, Baltimore, New York City, Oakland, East St. Louis or any other challenged community you can think of with current Rochester City School District graduation rates hovering at a dismal 9%.
As a Rochester, NY native, when I heard this news, I was disgusted
. But most importantly, inspired to do something about it.
For the last eight months, I have travelled back and forth from my home in Los Angeles, CA to Rochester, NY to listen and learn directly
from these young men about their challenges and what they need to succeed. For the better part of a year, I have heard their stories. Embraced their pains. Saw their tears.
As a proud dad of three boys, finding out that the majority of young males ages 13-18 in Rochester, NY also live in fatherless homes, also led to my diagnosis. It is crystal clear that young men of EVERY
ethnicity are in desperate need of individuals to provide: -Consistency-Discipline-Encouragement-Guidance
Delivered in an authentic and genuine way they can relate to. Bottom line, these young men need father figures
. Tour guides in the journey called life. Mentors who can help them discover their value, instill hope and help navigate through the obstacles standing in between them and their dreams.
To answer the call, I am launching a mentoring and empowerment initiative called the Champion Academy to prove we can reverse these trends for thousands of males ages 13-18 in Rochester, NY by tapping into the power of:
What makes this initiative even more exciting is that it's:
-Bringing national exposure to the challenges of my hometown.
To date, I have exhausted my personal resources to jumpstart this initiative and have worked diligently for months with both Mayor Warren and Superintendent Vargas to attempt to secure critical seed-funding to launch a united initiative. While their respective efforts were valiant and deeply appreciated, its clear that their governing bodies are not unanimously convinced that now is the time to make an impactful investment into this troubled population. So this program is delayed in City Council as they decide whether they want to fund this program or not.
This delay is REALLY saddening.
The truth is, young males ages 13-18 in Rochester, NY are in crisis right NOW.
. Dying NOW
. Loosing hope NOW
. To add to the challenge, summertime months equate to even less structure and more idle time for this population to make poor choices. This impact is far-reaching. Something must be done NOW
to start addressing the complex needs of young males within the City of Rochester.
Famous author and anthropologist Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” I couldn’t agree with her more.
I am horrified to think about what another summer of neglecting this challenged population would do to further damage the City of Rochester and the rest of this region.
I know in my heart that NOW is the time to take a stand and I truly believe there are people that also agree and will have the courage to help.
The Champion Academy will kick off with a FREE
two week summer mentoring program for 500
Rochester City School District students grades 7-12 from Monday, August 4th - Friday, August 15th, 2014.
The summer Champion Academy initiative will include FREE:
-Bus transportation to/from Charlotte High School
Combined with an ENTERTAINING & ENGAGING educational curriculum including topics such as:
-Health & Nutrition
-College & Career Readiness
Once the summer program is complete, the Champion Academy will continue to work to enhance its connection with young males during the school year through weekly mentorship sessions, monthly group activities, customized success plans and introductions to resources across the nation interested in helping them succeed.
Now lets talk some numbers….
There are currently more than 10,000 young males within the City of Rochester that need our help. As a parent, I know that a two-week mentoring camp, with free transportation, lunch, dinner, games, football training from NFL players, mentorship and life skills training PLUS and a year worth of mentoring and support would run a pretty large price tag.
Honestly, the two-week camp alone would be worth at least $600. Then add in a year of mentorship and other amenities? Under any fair assesment, this program could easily cost thousands of dollars per participant.
But not the Champion Academy.
Due to gracious inkind donations from across the region, our program costs less than $500 per participant for the entire YEAR.
With your support, we can not only raise enough funds for the initial 500 participants, but we can KEEP GOING to engage and empower as many of the remaining 9,500+ young men that we can.
But just like my playing days in the NFL, I know I cannot win this game alone. It's going to take teamwork
. An intelligent game-plan
and most importantly, courageous citizens
willing stand with me to make this initiative a reality.
I am humbly asking that you partner with me to bring this impactful initiative to my hometown.
Young men in Rochester, NY need to know that there are much more than just a charitable few who believe they are a cause worth fighting for. To prove the point, we have started this crowdfunding campaign to highlight that commitment.
Please support. No amount is too small. To show our appreciation, a few of my celebrity supporters and are giving away gifts for each donation of $10 or more!:)THE GOFUNDME.COM/HELPROCHESTERBOYS CELEBRITY CHALLENGE:
A private celebrity donor wants to see how many people will have the courage to stand with me for young men in Rochester, NY. For extra incentive, they have committed to match what I raise on GoFundMe.com dollar-for-dollar past the $150k mark up to $400K!!!!:)
For those that are unfamiliar with "matching", that means WHEN we raise $150k, it instantly turns into $300k. If we raise $400k, that instantly turns into $800k for the Champion Academy initiative!!!!!
As an NFL player, I've always loved a good challenge. Please help me score big to win the challenge while also serving MORE
young males in Rochester, NY.
If you would prefer to send a check or money order, please do! Make it payable to the "Champion Academy Fund
" and send it to:Champion Academy Fund*
c/o Rochester Area Community Foundation
500 East Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607
*All contributions are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.2: PASS THE WORD
Do you know anybody with a giving heart?
I bet if they knew about this passionate effort to fight back in Rochester, NY, they would probably support in some way. Please give them a chance to join this movement by sharing our crisis with as many people as you can. Also, GoFundMe.com makes sharing SO easy to do.
So SHARE away! Then get ready to enjoy all the good karma that's coming your way!:)
In closing, a heartfelt THANK YOU for taking the time to learn more about this crisis in my hometown. Positive mentorship and timely empowerment truly saved MY life as a young man. Please allow me to do the same for thousands of others.
To learn more, please visit our website at www.helprochesterboys.org
Thank you.Roland Williams
Super Bowl Champion
Author, Motivational Speaker & Proud Dad