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Roland Williams Champion Academy expands its pilot program

Jun 4, 2018

Roland Williams greeting students at the Champion Academy
Credit Champion Academy

A program founded by Rochester native and former pro football player Roland Williams to help teens living in poverty succeed, is extending its pilot phase.

The Champion Academy will continue for a fourth year, thanks to additional funding from the Polessini Foundation and the William and Mildred Levine Foundation.

Williams says supporters want to see tangible results, and that's what the past three years show.

"We're turning students from 1.0 to 4.0 (GPA); students who were getting suspended multiple times a year to zero. These are the kinds of things that people like to see. I'm pushing and challenging us, because I think we can do even better."

The Champion Academy employs what Williams calls an "extreme mentoring" model. The mentoring and discipline-based program places students in peer groups and one-to-one sessions.

"I think it's not for everybody. Extreme mentoring also includes extreme discipline. For a certain type of students, I think our program is just what they need to get the kind of support and consistency they need to help them succeed."

The initiative works with students in 47 schools in Monroe County, most of them in the city of Rochester.