Paul Savramis on the Evolution of the Rising Stars Youth Foundation

Paul SavramisRising Stars Youth Foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes education through sports. The foundation encourages underserved youth to excel within specialized programs that cater to youth most at risk of failure in school. The foundation does so by providing academic support through numerous channels, including private educational scholarship programs and making athletic participation for various outreach programs possible.

Paul Savramis, the non-profit’s founder, says his dream to give children an equal opportunity for success has now become reality and a vision shared by many.

Rising Stars, Inc., as the organization was first known, has gone through many changes and evolved in many ways since its humble beginnings as an after-school program at Bayside High School in 1996.

Paul Savramis explains much has changed in two decades since Rising Stars was first starting out. At first, the organization’s basketball teams were just that, teams formed to keep kids busy and off the streets. Today, each team consists of scholar-athletes taught to focus on the power of teams, including the benefits of cooperation and embracing diversity, especially with peers they may not otherwise befriend. Players on early Rising Stars teams were expected to try and maintain good grades but as a program director Paul Savramis and his coaches had few resources available to truly emphasize and promote education on their teams

That changed as Rising Stars grew and adopted a philosophy that embraced and defined what was to become the core values stressed by the evolving foundation. Those core values were three of the most important aspects of childhood: PLAY.LEARN.GROW.

As the foundation began to develop its new identity it also began to incorporate educators as well as coaches and put equal emphasis on the teaching done off the court as well as the coaching on it. Althea Williams, mother of Rising Stars alumni and Savramis pupil ESPN’s Jay Williams eagerly embraced the challenges of the program’s transition.

NYC educational pioneer Emily Ades was added as the organization’s full-time education director and together with Althea Williams helped Paul Savramis and Rising Stars Executive Director Dan Gimpel shift focus from simply having basketball players to encouraging full-fledged Scholar-Athletes who focused on their education and were also self-disciplined enough to engage in and excel at team sports.

According to Paul Savramis, one thing that sets the Rising Stars Youth Foundation apart from other sports-based programs is that it proactively works to identify at-risk children early in life and provides private educational opportunities that not only make the difference now but can significantly influence a child’s life through adulthood.

In addition to balancing sports and athletics, RSYF now requires community service and requests character reports from each recipient’s educational team.

By focusing on numerous aspects of children’s lives, RSYF has become a bridge between families schools and communities that is known for and identified as encouraging positive youth development.

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