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Former NFL star announces Rochester plans
Rochester, N.Y. - With or without City Council's approval, former NFL player and Rochester native Roland Williams said he plans to move forward and create a program aimed at helping blunt a rising number of troubled young men in Rochester.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Williams announced the Champion Academy, aimed at helping 13-18 year old males.
"It'll have mentorship, community engagement, technology, entertainment, sports participation and celebrity integration," said Williams at the news conference. "We can help these young people succeed."
Williams talked about sluggish graduation rates and delinquency of African-American and Latino males in the city as a reason for taking action.
"Contrary to what you might think, these people are not criminals," he said. "I'm launching the biggest and most inclusive mentoring organization in Rochester history...we can reverse these trends."
Williams originally wanted to partner with the City of Rochester to start the plan, but the city council has yet to vote on it and some were uncomfortable with the $200,000 price tag to get the program started. Others were concerned because the program was aimed only at helping young men, and not women.
Williams said although those plans to have City Council support are alive and well, he's starting the program with or without the council's help through private donations, some of his own money and a $34,000 partnership with the Rochester City School District.
Although much of the Champion Academy is marketed toward young men, because of the partnership with the Rochester City School District, it will be open to young women as well.
If all goes according to plan, Williams hopes to have a summer camp for the academy start on August 4th and run through August 15th.
Up to 500 boys and girls will be able to join, free of charge.
More information about the Champion Academy can be found here.