An open letter to all professional athletes, regardless of race, gender, political and/or ideological differences…
The years 1987 to 1991 marked the 200th anniversary of the writing, ratification, and implementation of the basic documents of American democracy, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Our Constitution has stood the tests and stresses of time, wars, and change. Although it is not perfect, as Benjamin Franklin and many others recognized, it has lasted because it was carefully crafted by men who seemingly understood the importance of a system of government sufficiently strong to meet the challenges of the day, yet sufficiently flexible to accommodate and adapt to new political, economic, and social conditions.
The year 1987 also was when the Center for Civic Education (CCE) was formed. This is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational corporation dedicated to promoting an enlightened and responsible citizenry committed to democratic principles and actively engaged in the practice of democracy here in the United States, in local communities and in other countries.
CCE developed a series of programs and curriculum materials to introduce to young people in classrooms throughout the United States. The primary program is “We the People………the Citizen and the constitution.” From 1987 to 2006, this program was taught to more than 28 million students across the United States. Although outstanding efforts were made, by the Center for Civic Education, to include all students, an alarming majority were rural and suburban school students. Urban students, the students in the cities and school systems where most of you work or depend on for support of your profession, were seriously under-represented. These urban, inner city students were missing a tremendous academic opportunity. An academic experience that offer opportunities for students to improve their abilities in written communication, information research, critical thinking, understanding a peaceful approach to conflict resolution, understanding the individuals’ responsibilities of citizenship, understanding Americas’ approach to democracy, developing acceptable reading skills, obtaining a working knowledge of the constitution, understanding the values of issue debating, public speaking, time management, reading for retention, developing a positive self-concept, reading for comprehension, reading for transfer, appreciating the value of cultural enrichment, understanding personal and ethnic history, gaining a since of community, understanding the terms civic virtue, common good and civic engagement, gaining a sense of ethnic/community pride and in viewing democracy from an international perspective.
In 2006, in order to improve participation of urban students and teachers in the “We the People ……..the Citizen and the Constitution” program; the Center for Civic Education formed a partnership with Frontiers International Inc., Seventh District (FIISD). FIISD was asked to (1) design a process that would use CCE’s curriculum materials and increase the numbers of inner-city students who would participate in the study of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and Americas’ approach to democracy and, (2) encourage urban school systems to adopt the WTP curriculum for use in the classrooms.
After four years of this WTP-Frontiers partnership, more than 1000 inner-city students have participated in this program and more than 200 students have actually competed in a WTP-Frontiers national simulated congressional hearing competition on the issues that impact the constitution, Americas’ approach to democracy, the common good of American citizens and the rule of law.
Our goal now is to increase the number of inner-city student participation to 3000 annually, and the number that participate in the national competition to 600 annually. We will conduct the annual congressional hearing competition, in July of each year, at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s). Frontiers International representatives will select a new location every three years. The annual budget for such an effort will be approximately $500,000.
We are asking for your support in a three year effort to setup a $10,000,000 endowment with a “Professional Athlete Inner-city citizenship Development” fund (PAID fund), headed by a group of 10 or more athletes (the sponsors) who will volunteer to be spokespersons for the WTP-Frontiers partnership three-year capital campaign effort. The donors to such a fund would be asked to allow Frontiers to use the interest from the principal as a gift to support the WTP-Frontiers youth program. The endowment amount (principal) would stay in total for 20 years or as long as Frontiers is involved with the WTP-Frontiers youth project. The funds would be held in a 501©3, tax exempt foundation (examples: the Indianapolis Foundation or the Indiana Bar Foundation) with a guaranteed interest payout. The use of the interest income would be managed by a three person committee (two individuals selected by the sponsors and one person selected by Frontiers International Inc., Seventh District). The committee would be responsible to ensure that the PAID fund is used solely for the implementation of the WTP-Frontiers Partnership youth project.
The sponsors are certainly encouraged to make cash contributions to the endowment, but our primary request is for you to motivate others (with your visible interest in and support of the campaign) to make contributions to the program. We would arrange for the sponsors to receive a personal orientation, a DVD/video explaining the specifics of the WTP-Frontiers partnership program plan and, after a decision is made to support our effort, will arrange for several 30-60 second promotional spots to be filmed and distributed for PSA broadcasting.
Obviously all Frontiers International Inc., Seventh District members, friends and parents of program participants will fully support this plan by participating in all program promotional and fundraising activities.
For additional information about the program and the WTP-Frontiers Partnership effort, please go to www.fiisd1.ning.com and www.civiced.org. To support the “PAID FUND” capital campaign effort, please contact FIISD at email@example.com.
Robert O. Walls, WTP-Frontiers Partnership Director
Frontiers International Inc., Seventh District