Kickoff 4 Kids (K4K) was founded in 2007 by NFL defensive lineman Amobi Okoye, the Foundation’s mission is giving hope to kids, communities and building unity amongst children around the world. Amobi entered high school at the young age of twelve, where he distinguished himself both athletically and scholastically. He graduated from Lee High School in Huntsville, Alabama when he was only fifteen years old. Amobi’s academic prowess was evident to all.
The Amobi Okoye Foundation has two divisions both domestic and international: (1) Domestic Youth & Community Programs Kickoff 4 Kids (K4K), and (2) International Outreach Programs, based in Amobi’s home continent of Africa, Changing Africa Through Education (C.A.T.E). Domestic programs are currently based in the inner city of Houston, Texas. Kickoff 4 kids also have offices in Huntsville Alabama and Louisville Kentucky the place of Amobi’s high school and collegiate careers, respectively. K4K Youth & Community Programs
To accomplish program objectives, ensure sustainable funding and garner sufficient community support, The K4K Foundation has adopted a sound strategy that incorporates an aggressive public information campaign; a Board of Directors and Councilors comprised of thoughtful leaders and key influencers, and frequent consultation with the best of professionals to ensure the integrity of all of its programs. Through a comprehensive programming model, sustainable funding and transparent reporting, The Amobi Okoye Foundation is making a difference in the lives of thousands of children and adults around the globe. In an effort to increase its reach and effectively help more youths, the foundation made a strategic decision in 2011 to expand the programs to ALL KIDS but still have special focus on kids who are “AT-RISK”.
Activities and Scholarship – K4K Scholarship: For parents who have incomes that just skate above the line of assistance, college may not even be a dream for their children. Because of this, K4K offers a leg up through scholarships offered to students in the inner city high schools entering college in Houston Texas, Huntsville Alabama and Louisville Kentucky. Specific criteria must be met in order to qualify for the scholarships. At present, partnerships exist with The University of Houston, The University of Louisville and Alabama A&M University. Each of these fine institutions are working to get matching funds to allow the funds donated by the Kickoff 4 Kids scholarship program to go further, and for more students to participate. Prospective students must meet all requirements of the university and be enrolled in order to participate in the program; in addition, each student must submit an essay on a designated topic to Kickoff 4 Kids foundation, along with their application. The student with the most outstanding criteria and essay in each market is awarded a scholarship. The student with the best essay will also be eligible to join the international division C.A.T.E, on its philanthropic trip the following year. Kickoff 4 Kids has awarded 10 scholarships since its inception. The number of students who will receive scholarships will grow in 2012 with the launch of an endowment scholarship program in conjunction with the University of Houston and the Foundation would like to make another expansion in 2013.
Sports Mentoring Camps Sports mentoring camps catch children and young adults falling through the cracks. The majority of the kids attending K4K camps are poverty-stricken or in at-risk situations. The camps for at-risk kids are free to the participants. Several paid camps are also held, to help fund the at-risk program. The mentoring program used in the camps focuses on the importance of education, bully prevention, implementing self-esteem and healthy living. Amobi Okoye holds the camp himself, and several other NFL players and area coaches join him in teaching proper technique, inspiring a love for school as well as physical activity. Success stories abound, year after year. Many of the kids who come to the camps are at a point in their life where they feel like dropping out of school and joining a gang, or that athletics is the only way out of their community. K4K camps focus on a message of education, letting each child know that it is the key to success and breaking the cycle of poverty, abuse and crime. While some still aspire to be professional athletes, they now see how a well rounded education can be an asset on and off the field. The children often come back, telling stories of good grades, college applications, and how they are now helping others. Those who are about to enter college may also apply for one of the Kickoff 4 Kids scholarships. They are asked to write an essay and submit it to K4K Foundation. The child who authors the essay best depicting the topic of the year, and who meets all scholarship criteria, is awarded a scholarship to a Kickoff 4 Kids University Partner.
Movies & Motivation Kick back, relax and enjoy a movie. That is something many at-risk kids don’t get to do. The K4K Movies and Motivation program is geared toward elementary and middle school kids. It allows them to be normal kids who can discuss the latest movie, relax, laugh and let their hair down. While there, NFL players, K4K staff and volunteers motivate the kids to stay in school, seek higher education, eat healthy, exercise and learn about bully prevention. Movies and Motivation are held in Houston, Louisville, and Huntsville. K4K plans on expanding the Movie and Motivation seminars to other cities in coming years. The Movies and Motivation program is one that can be duplicated in any city or rural area.
Kickoff 4 Kids House By using an innovative approach to the standard community center, the K4K House will establish a Competition Outreach Achievement Center amongst high schools to improve school attendance, grades, good behavior, physical activity and community service. It will be a place where kids will challenge each other in a safe and nurturing environment. In K4K House, expectations are high and failure is not an option. Not only will educational programs be supported, but also athletics and total community achievement is the goal. To accomplish this task, K4K will place significant emphasis on the overall health of the surrounding community. In a community where high educational achievement is valued and aberrant behavior is frowned upon, where success is modeled and failure is no longer the norm, communities are positioned to experience higher levels of success. K4K House will create a system that will steer highs school kids energy in a positive manner and not only give them that motivation to surpass a high school level education but also make them feel that they can contribute positively to society.
Kickoff 4 Kids Tackle Hunger program More than one million children go to bed hungry in the U.S. every night, according to a recent government report. President Barack Obama, who pledged to eradicate childhood hunger, has described as”unsettling” the agriculture department survey, which says that 50 million people in the US – one in six of the population – were unable to afford to buy sufficient food to stay healthy at some point last year in large part because of escalating unemployment or poorly paid jobs. That is a rise of more than one third over the year before, and the highest number since the survey began in 1995.The agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, said: “These numbers are a wake-up call … for us to get very serious about food security and hunger, about nutrition and food safety in this country.” This is why the Tackle Hunger program exists. The program goes beyond providing food, by building self-confidence, providing nutritional education, and raising awareness of the importance of proper nourishment.“Our goal is to offer underprivileged individuals an opportunity to attain the skills and tools necessary to increase their ability to provide for themselves. Education is key. We must not give a man a fish, but teach him how to fish and encourage him that with hard work he can one day buy the pond,” says Executive Director, Henry Dibrell. “Together we can make a Difference.” Since Tackle Hunger was established in 2008 over 6,000 families have been helped thanks to the generosity of donors. Food bins are distributed in three cities: Houston Texas, Huntsville Alabama, and Louisville Kentucky. Donated food items are given to local food pantries that address hunger in these communities. Through ‘Tackle Hunger Tuesdays’ businesses are empowered to get actively involved in fighting hunger in their cities. During a Tackle Hunger Tuesday event, local restaurants also agree to give 10% – 15% of the sales for that day to help alleviate the problem of hunger in their communities. In 2010, the decision was made to extend the Tackle Hunger program from the Thanksgiving holiday to year round. Each year, K4K Foundation celebrates by hosting a dinner that also serves as an evening of fun, games, education and fellowship for families it has touched throughout the year.
Books Abroad program
The Amobi Okoye Foundation’s goal of transforming lives and communities through education is being fulfilled through the K4K Books Abroad program. This program has allowed the K4K Foundation to establish partnerships with school districts in the Houston area, to collect out-of-adoption textbooks and deliver them to many rural areas in Nigeria. As of today, in partnership with Katy ISD and Houston ISD, the Amobi Okoye Foundation has delivered over150,000 books to some of the poorest schools in that country. In 2011,the program expanded to include a partnership with Raffikki International,allowing books to be shipped to other parts of Africa as well. The core belief behind the Books Abroad program is that real change will happen when the children of Africa receive a quality education. Below are some of the program’s highlights:
2008:During Amobi’s visit to Nigeria, he saw the need for materials such as school supplies and books, to ensure that Nigerian children receive a quality education. This need drove him to launch The Books Abroad Program.
2010 Partnered with Katy ISD and were able to deliver over 40,000 schoolbooks to some of thepoorest schools in Nigeria.
2011: Houston ISD, one of the largest independent school districts in the U.S., joined the Books Abroad program, along with Raffikki International, bringing total shipments to over 100,000 books, with another 100,000 awaiting funding to be shipped.
The Books Abroad program is now impacting students across Nigeria. Plans are in the works for a pipeline of books, with shipments to other developing countries throughout the year as well, including Liberia, Senegal, Cameroon, and Jamaica. Current partnerships under consideration are the Houston Port System and other Texas school districts. This will enable the Amobi Okoye Foundation to broaden its reach to see that tens of thousands of children receive quality educational materials.
I am glad I could help a noble cause!
Being a part of this Foundation has been a rewarding experience. I look forward to the opportunity to serve.