Heart of a Champion, a program designed to elevate the lives of 7,500 students in 39 Detroit Public Schools launched Sept. 23 at Fisher Magnet Upper Academy with a high-energy kick-off event including Katrina Hunter, wife of the Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter, school district officials and city dignitaries.
Through their charitable effort, The Torii Hunter Project, the Detroit Tigers All-Star outfielder and his wife are funding the program for the school district. Heart of a Champion is a character-building program that is proven to reduce dropout rates and increase student performance and graduation rates among students in 26 states.
“We are excited to bring a program to Detroit that has been proven to directly produce positive change in the lives of students,” said Torii Hunter. “Katrina and I are thankful for the opportunity to partner with Detroit Public Schools to make a difference in the lives of kids in our city.”
“We have had such a great experience in the two years we have been here and have developed a love for the people of Detroit,” said Katrina Hunter. “We can think of no better investment to make than in the youth of this city.”
The Heart of a Championprogram consists of innovative learning modules, which have proven to be successful with middle school and high school students in 26 states across the U.S. over the past 15 years. The organization has been recognized by the White House, and has been invited to testify before the U.S. Congress on multiple occasions due to the program’s success.
“The Heart of a Champion programhas the power to change students’ lives,” said Steve Riach, Founder and Board Chairman of the Heart of a Champion Foundation, a Dallas, TX-based nonprofit organization. “Thanks to the efforts of Torii and Katrina, we will see the lives of Detroit students impacted with inspiration instilled that will hopefully last a lifetime.”
“Detroit Public Schools is committed to helping its students achieve academic success and grow to become strong, productive members of the Detroit community,” said DPS Emergency Manager Jack Martin. “We recognize, however, that we cannot do this on our own and greatly appreciate the assistance of Torii and Katrina Hunter, the Detroit Tigers organization and the Heart of a Champion Foundation for partnering with us to make a positive impact on the lives of our students.”
The Heart of a Champion curriculum has been proven to change lives with students from a variety of cultural, racial, and socio-economic backgrounds. Based on empirical, measurable data, it is the program of choice for organizations from schools to inner-city youth programs to corporate boardrooms across the country. This comprehensive program teaches and reinforces positive character traits while incorporating critical thinking and decision making exercises and inculcating emotional intelligence. Program results have demonstrated increases in graduation rates, grade averages, individual student self-esteem, and motivation to succeed, as well as decreases in dropout rates, drug and alcohol use, cheating, bullying and referrals.
The Detroit Tigers are supporting the initiative by providing rewards and incentives for students who excel in the program throughout the school year. These incentives include game tickets and other Tigers merchandise and items.
Along with Katrina Hunter and Mr. Riach, the event included area rapper Beacon Light, local hip hop dance group I.D. Crew, leaders from Detroit Public Schools, and city officials.
Companies or individuals interested in partnering with the Torii Hunter Project and Heart of a Champion to further the impact of the initiative in Detroit area schools should contact David Pointer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 817-427-4621.