NFL star and East High School graduate Roland Williams is showing the city of Rochester what it really means to give back to one’s community. Williams, who also attended Syracuse University before continuing on to becoming a professional athlete, is determined to fix the Rochester City School District’s football program after completing an evaluation this past year. Williams recently announced the creation of the Champion Academy, which will focus on creating a better environment for Rochester’s youth.
Williams, who provided a 40-page report on the program, noted multiple parts of the program which need fixing. Williams stated that “with a combination of uninspired players, underdeveloped coaches, frustrated administration, inadequate facilities, disgruntled alumni and a disenchanted public, RCSDF has endured an alarming exodus of players leaving the district for competing schools.” After completing like evaluation — which is available to the public — Williams proposed a plan for revamping the high school football program over a period of three years. The proposal included basic improvements like replacing equipment, but it also focused on a variety of ways in which the Rochester metro community can converge and offer its youth the best chances of succeeding in the classroom as well as on the field. Roland was particularly concerned with the number of football players in the district who have the potential to graduate, but are instead held back at the school, which greatly reduces morale and motivation.
After a series of rejected proposals, Williams is more hopeful than ever that his proposal will encourage more students to stay in school and graduate — all while giving students the confidence to participate in healthy programs, as well as opportunities to display their achievements.
Finances may still be problematic, however, despite funding from the City Council, from the RCSD, and from Williams himself. Individuals can make private donations to the Champion Academy to help get the program running, and like all charitable donations, these are tax-deductible. “No amount is too small,” Williams states on the program’s webpage. “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.”