Growing up in a single-parent household in south central California, Marquis Taylor realized that he was one of the lucky ones. He had the ability to play sports. It was a huge part of his life. It kept him engaged in school because without good grades, he couldn’t play. He attributes every opportunity that he’s had to sports. He often wondered about the kids who didn’t have the skills – especially the ones who enjoyed sports, but never made the teams.
That question stayed with Taylor throughout college and his early career. It’s what made him decide to start Coaching4Change. The vision for the organization is that every high school student has the chance to learn the skills necessary to build a successful life. He believes that all children should have access to programs that prepare them for college and careers.
Partnering with Brockton, Massachusetts-area high schools, Coaching4Change teaches the students who love sports how to run after-school football and basketball programs with the help of college students from Stonehill College and Boston University. “We take kidswho have negative labels and train them to be the coaches – turning their labels into positive ones,” he said.
The college mentors help the high school coaches with schoolwork and with running high-quality after-school sports programs in their communities. For many, it’s their first look at the college experience. The coaches take what they learn and teach the younger kids. Taylor said, “With our program, everyone has someone they’re looking up to. The younger kids who are playing look up to their high school coaches. The high school kids look up to the college students. It gives them all something to aspire to. That helps us create small pockets of community that affect social and academic outcomes.”
Already the program has yielded great academic success. In spring 2014, Brockton teens’ GPAs went up 52% – from 1.8 to 2.8. With 110 high school coaches and 300 elementary and middle school kids playing, Taylor believes that Coaching4Change can help turn around education in struggling school districts. “Sports builds communities. It builds opportunities. It builds leadership. And the more opportunities kids have to explore their own leadership, the more likely they are to practice it and apply it,” he said.
To learn more, visit www.c4cinc.org.
Champion for change:
In spring 2014, Brockton teens' GPAs went up 52% - from 1.8 to 2.8.