Current and Former Athletes Come Together In Support of School Choice

Entertainers also joined sports stars in groundbreaking meeting encouraging greater involvement in education reform

LOS ANGELES, CA (July 13, 2012)—Dozens of current and former athletes, education reformers, and entertainers joined together prior to the 2012 ESPY Awards earlier this week to participate in a first-of-its-kind discussion about the importance of school choice and education reform to low-income communities nationwide.

The Alliance for School Choice—the nation’s leading organization in empowering low-income families to choose the best educational environments for their children—teamed up with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and the Professional Sports Wives Association to host the first annual event encouraging athletes to engage in promoting school choice, called “Giving Kids Hope: Addressing the Education Crisis in Our Communities.”

Hosted in conjunction with ESPN’s annual sports award show in Los Angeles, the event included dinner and discussion with leading athletes, education reformers, and community leaders. Speakers—including former NBA Star and ESPN Analyst Jalen Rose, Alliance senior advisor Kevin P. Chavous, and renowned education reformer and Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) Chairman Howard Fuller—called on prominent athletes and celebrities to become more engaged in the movement to expand educational options to families in need.

“I want to raise the profile and the success rate of the young men and the young women from my community, and the best way to do it is through education,” Rose said. “We have a lot of successful people across the country—sports, entertainment, lifestyle, what have you—that need to find a way to give back to their urban situations.”

Rose, a member of the famed “Fab Five” at University of Michigan and a 14-year NBA veteran, is among the most committed athletes to the cause of education reform. The Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, which he founded in in 2011, in June completed its first year operating in inner-city Detroit.

Among the others in attendance was a slew of prominent former stars, including Hall of Fame NBA legend Elgin Baylor. The Alliance has also worked in the past with NFL pro bowl wide receiver Greg Jennings of the Green Bay Packers, as well as Sam Mitchell, former NBA player and 2007 Coach of the Year.

The event brought together nearly 80 leading figures from the sports and entertainment community. Speakers urged attendees to make a difference in the lives of their own communities, where they saw the value of what education did in their own lives.

Chavous, a former D.C. Councilman with decades of experience in the education reform movement, outlined the urgency of helping as many children as possible right now.

“For too many years we’ve sat back and observed the education crisis from a distance, and that’s no longer acceptable,” Chavous said. “We need bold leaders from every community and in every state to stand up and demand that our children have the opportunities they deserve.

Watch a video produced by the Alliance that was shown at the event: