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Athletes in Action

Athletes in Action

AFH University February 2024 Roundup

Developed in 2013, our AFH University program helps college athletes explore leadership, life skill development, advocacy, their role in the community, and how to discover their philanthropic passions. 

While February came and went in a flash, our student-athletes dedicated as much time as possible to giving back to their communities in meaningful ways.

Athletes from Davidson College, Southern University, Bowie State, Georgetown, and LSU engaged in Valentine’s Day card making, various panel discussions, celebrating Black History Month and more!

Davidson College

Continuing The Mission

The women of the Davidson field hockey team spent time at Continuing the Mission, a comprehensive assistance for veterans that provides assistance dogs and support. 

Since 2023, the team has been volunteering at Continuing the Mission where they take the dogs out, play with them, and help them socialize before they get adopted out to the veterans.

Mental Health U

During Black History Month, AFH University student-athletes from Davidson College and Southern University took part in the launch of AFH’s brand new AFH University panel series titled Mental Health U.

In Episode 1: Black History Month, the student-athletes discussed the importance of speaking out about mental health and breaking the stigma of mental health in the black community.

Hear about the mental health resources the student-athletes use on and off campus, the importance of having people you can talk to, how the stigma of mental health is changing, and more here.

Southern University

Valentine’s Day Project

This year for Valentine’s Day, student-athletes at Southern University helped spread the love as they hosted a card-making station where others could come and create cards for patients at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital.

Once completed, the cards were hand-delivered to the hospital in time for Valentine’s Day where they were given to patients.

Black History Month Essay Contest

This year AFH partnered with the athletic departments at Southern University and Bowie State for our Black History Month Essay Contest. The contest asked high schoolers in their communities to share a story of an African American who has been an inspiration to them.

The winners from each community captured the power of perseverance and dedication in their essays. You can read both of the winning essays and learn more about this year’s winners here.

Bowie State

CHAMPS Program

In September 2023 Athletes for Hope revamped its AFH Fit and H.E.A.R.T. Curriculum to create the CHAMPS Program. CHAMPS brings athletes to underserved elementary school classrooms to teach them invaluable mental health and leadership skills alongside physical activity exercises. 

This February student-athletes from Bowie State SAAC visited Perrywood Elementary School to put on a CHAMPS session with the children at the school. CHAMPS participants were taken through workouts, a mental health Mindfulness activity and more!

CIAA Panel Series

Members of Bowie State SAAC had the pleasure of visiting the Under Armour Headquarters where they participated in a series of panel discussions with Deloitte CEO of Consulting Dan Helfrich where they discussed a day in the life of a student-athlete with high school students.

The panelists kept the conversation light while providing insight on barriers to access of sport, adjusting to collegiate athletic life, how sports prepare you for professional work life, and more!

Georgetown

Night to Shine

Over 40 Georgetown student-athletes attended a Night to Shine in Washington DC. Night to Shine is a prom night experience for individuals 14 and older who have special needs and is sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation.

Louisiana State University (LSU)

Black History Month Movie

February is a time when AFH University student-athletes come together to celebrate, honor, and preserve Back history.

This year during Black History Month, student-athletes at LSU hosted a movie night for their campus that honored black movie directors. Eventgoers enjoyed a myriad of movies and sparked up conversations about the contributions of the Black community to film and television.

Spring is just around the corner for our student-athletes and we cannot wait to see how they will positively impact their communities!

Black History Month Essay Contest

Inspiring the Next Generation

As Athletes for Hope (AFH) spent February celebrating the contributions and positive impacts of African American trailblazers, we partnered with our AFH University Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) athletic departments at Bowie State and Southern University for our 2nd Annual Black History Month Essay Contest.

The contest asked high schoolers in their communities to share a story of an African American who has been an inspiration to them.

The outpouring of submissions from students was incredible. We are honored to share with you the stories of the winners of our AFH Black History Month Essay Contest from Bowie High School and Scotlandville Magnet High School.

Meet The Winner: Bowie State

As we celebrate the contributions and positive impact of African American trailblazers, the Bowie St. University Athletic Department and Athletes for Hope encouraged 9th-12th grade students in the Bowie area to share the story of a local African American that has been an inspiration in their life.

The standout winner from the Bowie State community was soon-to-be 2026 graduate, Jalil.

Although Jalil was not able to attend the Bowie State Basketball game to be recognized and celebrated by his peers, he was sent an official AFH Black History Month Essay Contest certificate along with an AFH swag bag.

Read His Essay

Jalil

Black History Month Essay Topic: Omar Karim

Jalil’s essay focuses on the grit and determination of his Uncle Omar. He described his unwavering perseverance in creating a successful construction company during a time when most people told him his dreams were out of reach. Jalil’s essay perfectly encapsulates the meaning of hard work and the value of never giving up.

In him, I see the courage to chase my own dreams, the resillence to overcome hurdles, and the resourcefulness to navigate challenging landscapes.

Jalil

To read Jalil’s Black History Month Essay, click here.

Meet The Winner: Southern University

As we celebrate the contributions and positive impact of African American trailblazers, the Southern University Athletic Department, and Athletes for Hope encouraged 9th-12th grade students in the Baton Rouge area to share the story of a local African American who has been an inspiration in their life.

This year’s essay contest winner from the Baton Rouge community was senior football player, Lonnie.

Lonnie was recognized and celebrated by his peers at Southern’s basketball game on Saturday, February 24th where he was presented with an official AFH Black History Month Essay Contest certificate and an AFH swag bag.

Read His Essay

Lonnie

Black History Month Essay Topic: John Kermit Haynes

Lonnie wrote vividly about the inspiration and impact John Kermit Haynes has made on the city of Baton Rouge. Haynes is an esteemed biologist and academic administrator who is most famous for discovering methods for the detection and treatment of sickle cell anemia.

His (Haynes) story underscores the transformative power of education, mentorship, and perseverance, instilling hope and ambition in future generations as they navigate their own paths to success. 

Lonnie

To read Lonnie’s essay, click here.

AFH University Service Recognition

January 2024 | Student-Athlete & Team of the Month

Each month we ask our AFH University campus liaisons for nominations of student-athletes and teams who excelled in service. Through our monthly nominations, we can acknowledge all of the good our student-athletes and teams are doing in their communities.

During January, our Student-Athlete and Team of the Month award winners brought together members of their communities for great causes.

January Student-Athlete of the Month

Ashanti Tianna Turner

Our January Student-Athlete of the Month is Ashanti Tianna Turner from Bowie State Track & Field. Ashanti was nominated by her peers because of her incredible work connecting teams to service on the 2024 MLK Day of Service.

“Ashanti helped plan and execute getting volunteers for a Martin Luther King Day event on Bowie State’s campus.  As SAAC President, Ashanti rallied student-athletes from various teams on campus to work in conjunction with the Nutrition Lounge (BSU food pantry) and RISE Against Hunger to package up 20,000 meals for MLK Day of Service.

Aside from her MLK Day contributions, the senior sprinter is not new to service. She is actively involved in Bowie State’s R.A.K.E.(Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere) campus initiative which aims to spread positivity and spark continuous moments of joy for peers.

Over the summer, Ashanti participated in the 2023 Black Student-Athlete Summit, a four-day conference comprised of student-athletes, professionals, and influencers in athletics who discussed key topics that impact Black student-athletes.

During the summit she was able to discuss important topics such as Black student-athlete mental health, transitioning out of sports and Black athlete performance and success in life.

Ashanti is thrilled to be named January’s Student-Athlete of the Month and is excited to continue to propel her teammates and classmates toward service.

January Team of the Month

Clark Atlanta Women’s Basketball

The January Team of the Month is the Clark Atlanta women’s basketball team. The team was nominated by their peers for hosting a “day in the life” for children at the Harland Boys and Girls Club.

The Clark Atlanta Women’s Basketball team hosted 15 children from the Harland Boys and Girls Club along with three chaperones and gave them a “day in the life” experience. Women’s Basketball along with the Spirit Booster Club showed the kids what a day in the life of a CAU student-athlete is like.

The kids from the club were able to spend time with the student-athletes and get to know them and ask questions about what being a collegiate athlete is like. They also spent the game with the Spirit Boosters who showed them different cheers and encouraged them to engage with fans and have fun!”

The Clark Atlanta Women’s Basketball team has historically been heavily involved in service throughout the Atlanta community, with several players helping to initiate team service projects. The Lady Panthers have participated in breast cancer research walks, read to local elementary school students, volunteered at community basketball court unveilings and more.

Aside from community service, the Lady Panthers are passionate about using their voices to make a difference. Several team members have participated in AFH University panels and Black History Month panels where they share their thoughts on topics surrounding student-athlete mental health and the Black student-athlete experience.

The Lady Panthers are excited to receive this award and recognition from their peers as they get ready for more community service this spring.

AFH University Service Recognition

November & December 2023 | Student-Athlete & Team of the Month

Each month we ask our AFH University campus liaisons for nominations of student-athletes and teams who excelled in service. Through our monthly nominations, we can acknowledge all of the good our student-athletes and teams are doing in their communities.

During November and December, our Student-Athlete and Team of the Month award winners challenged the status quo on what it means to serve as they created service projects and opportunities in their community.

November Award Winners

November Student-Athlete of the Month

Our November Student-Athlete of the Month is Eliza Buerk from Davidson women’s basketball. Eliza personally reached out to the AFH University team to plan an event with Dream on 3 and the Davidson women’s basketball team.

“Eliza has spearheaded the planning and preparation for this experience which took place on December 8 at their game against High Point. The team hosted families, showed them around the arena, and honored them at halftime. Eliza was at the center of the planning and this could not have been put together without her hard work and passion.”

November Team of the Month

The November Team of the Month is the Southern bowling team. Together, Southern bowling has been a force, not only on the lanes but in the community.

“Southern bowling kicked off their season prioritizing service, playing a huge role in the 2023 AFH Baton Rouge Serves initiative and 9/11 Day of Service events. The team participated in food sorting at the BR Food Bank, enjoyed a school visit with Louisiana Key Academy, and an Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital Visit.”

December Award Winners

December Student-Athlete of the Month

Our December Student-Athlete of the Month is Zion Walters from Clark Atlanta women’s basketball. Zion has participated in service opportunities every month throughout the entire fall 2023 semester, even asking to be connected to service opportunities while she was at home during the holiday season.

For the entire first semester of the school year Zion has been attending the Harland Boys and Girls Club weekly to hang out with the kids. In December, Zion worked tirelessly to help the kids choreograph a dance to perform at their Holiday Party. She worked with the kids for over a month to get the dance perfect to perform in front of all of the staff, kids, and families at the club.”

December Team of the Month

The December Team of the Month is the Davidson women’s basketball team. During December, the Davidson women’s basketball team hosted Dream on 3 for a fun “Dreamers Day” during their game against High Point.

The women on the Davidson women’s basketball team spent the day hosting children and their families who are living with life-altering conditions. Not only did the kids get to spend time with the team, but they received swag from Davidson College along with being honored at half-time in front of all of the fans and players at the arena. After the game, the kids and their families were able to get autographs and pictures with all of the players.”

As we look forward to another semester of AFH University, we couldn’t be more proud of all of our student-athletes and teams for the work they are doing in their communities each day!

Athletes in Action

AFH University January 2024 Roundup

Developed in 2013, our AFH University program helps college athletes explore leadership, life skill development, advocacy, their role in the community, and how to discover their philanthropic passions. 

As 2024 began, our student-athletes wasted no time getting back into service projects throughout their communities.

Athletes from Georgetown, Southern University and LSU engaged in community beautification projects, served on MLK Day, and more!

Georgetown

Keep Austin Beautiful

The Georgetown women’s rowing team visited Austin the first week of January and jumped right in to help with a beautification project.

They supported a Keep Austin Beautiful project and took kayaks out with the Austin Rowing Club, as well as engaged in picking up trash and other items along the waterfront. Despite visiting another state for training, they continued their dedication to service and community.

Martha’s Table

On January 15, for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, student-athletes at Georgetown University were one of the many AFH University campuses who volunteered to honor the life and legacy of Dr.King.

Student-athletes collected pantry items for their on-campus food pantry and participated in a pop-up market on MLK Jr. Avenue hosted by Martha’s Table in collaboration with the Annual MLK Day of Service Parade in Downtown, D.C.

Southern University

The Walls Project

As a part of MLK Day 2024, Southern baseball and Southern soccer participated in a three-part community service project. This year’s project was focused on beautifying the Eden Park neighborhood. Service zones consisted of revitalizing a basketball court, painting houses and murals to cleaning up blight along the streets. 

Southern baseball facilitated clean-up along the streets of the Gus Young Neighborhood while Southern soccer assisted with a beautification project at Eden Park by painting a mural on a vacant building.

On MLK Day, I got a chance to give back to the community. It is my duty as a Southern Jag and a student athlete to take opportunities to serve on such a monumental day. My teammates and I walked the streets of Baton Rouge by the MLK Center picking up trash. It always feels good giving back and I plan to continue helping every chance I get.

Qunicy Smith, Southern Baseball

Louisiana State University (LSU)

Girls On The Run

During MLK Day 2024, a group of LSU student-athletes and athletic administration members were able to build program bags designed to help young girls who are participating with Girls On The Run, a nonprofit organization that is designed to be a mentoring program and a running club that is training for a 5k.

I had the chance of facilitating our volunteers to pack running kits for elementary aged girls that are a part of the Girls On The Run program. As a female athlete, I believe that it is important to build the future generation so that they to can feel the same sense of achievement that I feel. Through this volunteer opportunity, I hope that the girls feel the care and love that their community has for them.

Shani’a Bellamy, LSU Track & Field

Empower 225: Dream Center

During MLK Day 2024, LSU student-athletes were also able to give back to the Baton Rouge area through a field day.

Volunteers facilitated a field day with Empower225: Dream Center, a program in the Baton Rouge area that aims to empower the youth in the area who are at risk of homelessness and dependency. 

It was great being able to hang out with the kids and see them having fun and smiling. I enjoyed being able to speak with some of them and give some words of encouragement.

Morgan Smalls, LSU Track & Field

As we enter into another year of AFH University, we are excited to watch all of our campuses engage their communities through various service projects throughout the year. We are so proud of all of our student-athletes whose continued dedication to positively impacting their communities is changing the world!

AFH News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Athletes for Hope Unites in Service on MLK Day 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C.— Athletes will step up to serve as volunteers on the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King and improve their communities. Athletes for Hope University (AFH University) student-athletes from Georgetown University, Howard University, and Bowie State University will hold food drives for their on-campus food pantries and volunteer with local food organizations as they tackle the disparities of food insecurity, joining hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country in volunteer service.

Observed each year on the third Monday in January, Martin Luther King, Jr., Day is the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to honor the life and legacy of Dr. King and improve their communities. AmeriCorps has been charged with leading this effort for more than a quarter century. While much work remains to fulfill Dr. King’s dream of creating the Beloved Community, AmeriCorps remains committed to showing that joining together in service can unify Americans of different backgrounds and experiences to transform unjust systems through a fierce urgency of now.

AFH University student-athletes at Georgetown University and Howard University will collect pantry items for their respective on-campus food pantries, Hoya Hub Food Pantry, and the Store@HU. Volunteers will also participate in a pop-up market on MLK Jr. Avenue hosted by Martha’s Table in collaboration with the Annual MLK Day of Service Parade in Downtown, D.C.

“Today we answer Dr. King’s call to serve and are making a difference in the lives of D.C. residents,” said Sara Keane, Assistant Director, AFH University at Athletes for Hope. “Let’s honor Dr. King’s legacy by working toward a more just and equitable society, where everyone is valued and respected, regardless of their race, religion, or background. By participating in service projects, we can bridge divides, heal wounds, and create lasting change that will benefit our communities for years to come. Together, let’s unite across differences, serve with our neighbors, and transform our communities as we strive toward a brighter future for all.”

AFH University student-athletes at Bowie State University will be participating in an event in conjunction with their on-campus food pantry, the Nutrition Lounge. In addition to the pantry event, the University is partnering with RISE Against Hunger to prepare and package up to 20,000 meals for those in need across the greater Washington, D.C. community.

“Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve,” Dr. King said. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Whether you plan on cleaning up a public space, mentoring a young person, training tutors, or assisting those who are food insecure or unhoused, what you do makes a world of difference. Find opportunities to volunteer for MLK Day of Service and engage with your community while honoring the legacy of Dr. King at AmeriCorps.gov/MLKDay. 

For media inquiries please contact Diana Venezia, dvenezia@athletesforhope.org, (908) 462-4189

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About Athletes for Hope

Founded by Muhammad Ali, Andre Agassi, Mia Hamm, and nine other elite athletes in 2006, Athletes for Hope (AFH) is a cause-neutral non-profit that educates, encourages, and empowers athletes to find their passions and use their time to positively engage with their communities. Over the past 16 years, AFH has educated more than 12,000 professional, Olympic, Paralympic, and collegiate athletes through its Causeway workshop series, and helped athletes volunteer with hundreds of underserved schools and impactful community organizations through core programs that focus on helping underserved children become more physically active, changing the public stigma around mental health, and brightening the lives of children in hospitals. Through their dedication and passion for doing good, AFH athletes have positively impacted the lives of millions around the world.

About AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps, the federal agency for volunteerism and national service, provides opportunities for Americans to serve their country domestically, address the nation’s most pressing challenges, improve lives and communities, and strengthen civic engagement. Each year, the agency places more than 200,000 AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers in intensive service roles; and empowers millions more to serve as long-term, short-term, or one-time volunteers. Learn more at AmeriCorps.gov.