Next Academy is a nonprofit I established this year. Our mission is straightforward: to offer children on the west side of Indianapolis diverse opportunities for personal growth and success through programs in sports, arts, entrepreneurship, and coding. We aim to empower youth and foster positive change within our community.
Growing up, I nearly missed out on accessing top-level travel soccer because the local program disbanded. This experience prompted me to experience firsthand the challenges many kids face due to the lack of accessible and affordable programs. Fortunately, I found an opportunity in a neighboring town and eventually caught the eye of Notre Dame through my performances, altering my life trajectory significantly.
Observing the persistent lack of change in access to sports programs, particularly in soccer, upon my return, I resolved to make a change. This motivation birthed Next 11 Academy, our flagship soccer program. Our primary aim was to create a local entry point for kids to engage in travel-level soccer without the barriers of leaving their communities or facing exorbitant costs. To ensure inclusivity, we offer scholarships and maintain the lowest fees possible. Instead of relying solely on parental contributions, we actively pursue grants, corporate sponsorships, and fundraising efforts to subsidize player fees.
This fall, we successfully hosted three teams comprising 50 kids from diverse backgrounds. Looking ahead, we’re eager to launch our Urban Gardening and STEAM programs in the coming Spring. While I’m proud of our achievements, there’s much more ahead on our journey toward ensuring equitable access to opportunities for all.
In Partnership with Lauren & Jrue Holiday
In this project, I have the privilege of collaborating with Lauren Holiday, a World Cup winner and inductee of the US Soccer Hall of Fame, and her husband, Jrue Holiday, an NBA Champion and All-Star. Lauren and I have a shared history, having grown up playing on the same fields, and we both understand the challenges of limited access in sports. Lauren is deeply committed to our mission and plays a crucial role in this initiative. Both Lauren and Jrue are recognized philanthropists, recently acknowledged by ESPN for their significant contributions in supporting minority business owners.
Starting this project has been a significant learning experience for me. In my role as a leader, I’ve experienced substantial personal growth within a short span. I’m confident that our organization will continue to expand and achieve the ambitious goals we’ve set. If you’re keen on discovering more, visit our website and consider signing up for our subscriber list to stay updated on our progress.