Friday, May 18, 2007

Brown Gives Back

Sports players often get a bad rap, and some deservingly so. It is worthwhile to mention those that are doing the complete reverse, including the Cleveland Browns' star WR Braylon Edwards, who recently pledged $1 million to 100 kids' college education... and wisely, too.

Edwards' latest plan -- he also endowed a $500,000 scholarship at his alma mater, the University of Michigan -- isn't complicated. In December 2006, he picked the 100 recipients after his foundation combed through 1,000 essays submitted by eighth-graders who had been recommended for the program by their teachers.

After deciding on the pool of kids, Edwards set the guidelines. Every child involved in the program needs to maintain a 2.5 grade point average throughout high school. They must do 15 hours of community service every year until they graduate. They also can't have any unexcused absences. If they do all this, Edwards will help pay for their college education.

I like that he's not just throwing away the money, or throwing money at the kids - they have to work hard for four years and then they can have some of college paid for. The reactions from some of them - and their parents - when he came to meet all of them and talk with them shows how much of an impact this will have:

One girl told Edwards he couldn't imagine how much this opportunity meant to her. Another boy echoed a similar sentiment. Finally, a mother approached Edwards and said she hadn't even thought about college for her son until the boy was chosen for this award. At best, she figured, her son would have to go to a trade school.

That possibility nearly stunned Edwards.

"How do you have a kid in the eighth grade who doesn't even have the possibility of going to college?" he said. "That's crazy."

Kudos to Edwards for making a difference.

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