MESSAGE FROM OUR FOUNDER: ITS TIME TO INNOVATE Dear Future Teammate, When I'm asked what inspired me to create the Champion Academy Extreme Mentoring & Empowerment Initiative, let me start by asking you a few questions. Did you know that Rochester, New York was: Ranked top in America per-capita in childhood poverty, extreme poverty and single-parent, female-headed homes? Home of the lowest graduation rates of black and latino males in the nation? Home of a city school district that only 1% of 8th grade students passed their state testing in Math? Home of a city school district where one in five students ages 13-17 are suspended each year? Home of a city school district that more than 80% of its students have experienced some form of trauma? As proud Rochestarian and graduate of its city school district, when I first learned these statistics, I was shocked and embarrassed. With all the wealth, intelligence and resources in the Greater Rochester Area, I couldn't comprehend how my hometown had fallen so low in so many areas. As a father of three myself, I have always taught my sons to work hard, live with passion and have the courage to stand up for what they believed was right. In this instance, it was my turn. While Rochester has always had its share of problems, "worst in America" was a bit too much to bear. Rochester, NY is not that bad, is it? The more I thought about it, the more my shock and embarrassment turned into pure outrage. It was time for this retired NFLer to leave the comforts of suburban Los Angeles to turn his outrage into action. Born and raised in the 19th Ward on the west side of Rochester, I've seen first hand the negative residuals of poverty, gangs, drugs, violence, abuse, theft, teenage pregnancy and incarceration destroying the lives of too many. My father worked for more than 30 years at Monroe County Children's Center and St. Joseph's Villa as a juvenile corrections counselor. As a kid growing up, it was filled with sobering reminders of what can happen as a result of bad decisions. Fast forward to present day... I'm tired of seeing the failure and ignorance of too many teens in my hometown. Disrespectful attitudes. Breaking basic laws. In-school fights and out-of-school brawls from Greece Ridge Mall to the Lilac Festival. Hearing constant complaints from business leaders about the poor work ethic and social skills of the worker pool. Constant reports from family, friends, teachers and administrators about the constant increases in bullying, violence, gangs and sexual activity both inside the schools and on the streets. Its time for this nonsense to stop. At bare minimum, it time to get things trending in a more positive direction. But in order to get this accomplished, its going to require us to honestly confront some inconvenient truths about the origins of our increasing teen challenges. That's where the Champion Academy Extreme Mentoring & Empowerment Initiative (or Champion Academy for short) comes in. With an in-depth understanding of the complex environmental realities teens in poverty face every day, the Champion Academy provides its members with the critical accountability, support and consistency teens in poverty need to succeed. In the summer of 2015, we began a 3-year pilot of the Champion Academy and our results so far have been nothing short of amazing. To be more specific, program outcomes from our first full academic year included: 300+ middle and high school participants representing 50 schools and 18 zip codes in Greater Rochester Area. 82% of active members improved their Grade Point Average (GPA) from the previous year. 10 active members achieved a 4.0 GPA for the first time in their academic careers. 41 active members achieved a 3.0 GPA for the first time in their academic careers. 85% of active members improved financial literacy competency. 95% of active members improved attitudes towards developing healthy relationships with peers & adults outside of family. 92% of active members improved attitudes towards developing healthy relationships with police officers and authority figures. 2,000+ hours of community service donated from FIRST TIME philanthropists. Not bad considering we had zero full-time employees and operated on a shoestring budget. In year two, thanks to the support of community leaders also interested in game-changing solutions, we finally have some full-time staff and are building the infrastructure necessary to make the Champion Academy a permanent fixture in Rochester community. And as expected, our outcomes were even better. Please take a look at our results page to learn more. But to win this game, we are going to need your help. Please take a look at the rest of our website and do what you can to join the Champion Academy family. If you have any additional questions, feel free to email me directly at Roland@ChampionAcademyROC.org. Thank you in advance for joining me in this fight for the future of this region. Welcome To The Team, Roland Williams NFL Super Bowl Champion | Founder PS. If you are interested in learning about my life outside of the Champion Academy, click here!