A program founded by former NFL player and Rochester native Roland Williams has received a $1,000,000 gift to kick off its first fundraising campaign.
The Champion Academy, Extreme Mentoring & Empowerment Initiative is aimed at teens living in poverty, and giving them the support they need to overcome obstacles and maximize their human potential.
That one million dollar gift comes from the William and Mildred Levine Foundation.
President of the Foundation, Todd Levine says the gift will help transform the Champion Academy, which has launched its first-ever fundraising campaign, the $5.2 million dollar "Champions for Change."
"This is meant to be a launching pad to a greater campaign to be able to create thier own a foundation so they can have sustainability in the future and grow," he said.
Williams says the gift will go a long way toward ensuring the program's success in helping teens in poverty through the program's 'extreme mentoring' model.
"Our program over the last two years has produced results. We're doing the work the relationships one at a time that's necessary to turn students around," he said.
One student who turned things around is Raven Jess, who is the recipient of the program's first scholarship.
She was struggling with a .5 grade point average before joining the Academy.
In the last three years, she's had a 4.0 GPA.
"It's beyond mentoring. They come to your schools, to visit you, they come throughout the school year. They're all around, basically. (They) come to your house," she said.
The Champion Academy is inviting people to participate in the fundraising effort to help over 300 teens in poverty become contributing members of the community.
Here's Roland Williams awarding Raven Jess the first William & Mildred Levine Foundation Senior Scholarship: