If you’ve ever seen The Office, you must remember the sixth-season episode where Michael Scott reconnects with his “Scott’s Tots,” a local high school class who Michael had promised ten years earlier to paying for their college education – who he by no means can pay for and must break the news to the kids.
Like the fictitious NBC character, NFL wide receiver Braylon Edwards made a similar promise in 2005 as a rookie with the Cleveland Browns.
Except Braylon is keeping his promise and helping these kids compete for a brighter future than once thought possible.
That’s right – Braylon Edwards is helping 100 Cleveland public school graduates with their college tuition by contributing $10,000 toward their educational pursuits. It presented a powerful opportunity for these kids because less than half of students enrolled in Cleveland public high schools ever finish.
100 students x $10,000 each.
That’s a $1 million pledge to the future of students he didn’t know.
Braylon had three requirements of the then eighth-grade students:
- Maintain a 2.5 or higher GPA
- Completed 15 hours of community service
- Became “exemplary students”
What’s crazy about this idea was that Braylon was 23 when he decided to challenge the students to start competing for their futures and reward them if they met the requirements.
1100 kids applied to the “Advanced 100” Program and 100 were accepted.
Five years after the initial challenge, 79 students graduated meeting all three requirements. And Braylon honored that commitment despite only being signed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the San Francisco 49’ers.
“That’s essentially like you’re playing for free,” says ESPN columnist Rick Reilly.
“It’s not about the money or what I make, it’s just about doing what’s right,” responds Braylon.
One of the students was inspired by Braylon encouragement to “stand out and be the one no one expected you to be. The one that everyone would remember.”
In other words, compete for your future.
And now because of Braylon’s contribution, 79 students on 22 college campuses across the US can compete every day for a future and education that once looked completely out of reach.