New Day Academy, Inc. is a Boston-based non-profit (registered 501c3) that serves young men who attend Boston Public Schools (primarily Brighton High) and are from low-income neighborhoods. The organization leverages its members' interest in basketball to inspire personal, academic and professional development.
New Day unofficially started early in 2014 as a grassroots effort to train and mentor a few 8th grade student-athletes. Their high school coach to be, Hugh Coleman, asked his close friend, Zak Ray, to lend a helping hand. By 2015, it became clear the presence of basketball opportunities could drive greater effort in the classroom and elsewhere. We had no budget and no facilities, but that didn't stop us from making great strides with the boys. We founded New Day Academy in January 2016, and decided to take a crack at broadening our reach by growing from 3 young men to 12. The road has been challenging, but our results and achievements have been truly remarkable.
It seems everything New Day members are tasked with takes ultimate courage and/or a herculean effort to complete. From their 90-minute commutes to struggling schools at 5:30a each morning – to having to look out of the window to make sure it is safe to leave the house during the summer months. Hanging onto friends and family has proven difficult, as all our members have lost a friend or family member to gun violence. Over 80% of New Day members live in single parent households or do not live with either parent. Access to quality food is often limited. Transportation to and from extracurricular activities is also tricky for these 15-18 year olds whose parents often lack time and/or a vehicle; particularly given traveling home after dark can be extremely dangerous.
Basketball is seen by many young men living in the "inner city" as a way to get out of the hood and eventually provide better lives for themselves and their families. For others, it is used as an escape from reality. Time spent on the court provides a (sometimes) safe getaway from the long list of dangers and issues surrounding them.
Whatever the motivation, New Day members love basketball. So much so that the New Day founders Zak Ray, Hugh Coleman and Kurtis Grant have realized that our young men are willing to go to great lengths for opportunities to play the game. Along with our incredible volunteer staff, we volunteer our mornings, evenings, and weekends to help guide our members in the right direction.
Despite the many challenges, our inaugural year has been tremendous. In addition to providing regular practice and competition for our young men, the program includes having a meal and doing homework as a group every Sunday, occasional meetings with local entrepreneurs, travel throughout the northeast, volunteer opportunities, and professional development. Above all, we have been able to keep the boys safe and cared for.
To many, the obstacles our young men face prove insurmountable and that is why our early success is worth celebrating and supporting.
1) Two of our members passed more classes in the 2015-2016 school year than they did (cumulatively) in 3 years of middle school!
2) One of our members has made the honor roll 5 out of 8 terms and had never previously made honor roll. He is now challenging himself by enrolling in Honors/AP classes as a junior.
3) In September, we established a partnership with the Lena Park Community Center in Dorchester. Each Saturday, our members volunteer at Lena Park in order to earn gym time and classroom time for our weekly homework sessions and group meals.
4) We traveled to places such as Providence, Atlantic City, New London, and Springfield (MA) to compete in some of the best basketball tournaments on the east coast.
5) We established a partnership with athletic trainer Montel Hill, founder of Hill Sports Performance, who mentors our members and, along with his staff, administers a strength and conditioning program we call "Flight School."
6) We added mentors/coaches Noah Coughlin, former professional basketball player and founder of technology start-up BldUp, and Matt Lanchantin, a biochemist who played basketball at Tufts University.
The 2016 program has taken approximately $12,000 to execute. The majority of the expenses are related to transportation, lodging, food, gym memberships, apparel, and basketball tournament fees. To date, all academic and professional development efforts have been made possible by voluntary efforts.
We are targeting a $20,000 budget for 2017, which will fund necessities the young men are lacking such as healthy food and safe transportation (particularly during the summer months), and will also fund our basketball related activities. We plan to expand to 15 members (up from 12 in 2016).
We have provided a solid foundation for our members and have seen unbelievable growth in all of them. We hope this GoFundMe page will help take our program to new heights in 2017!
Please donate and follow us on Instagram to track all the life changing opportunities your contributions make possible.
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