'Academic coaches' considered for athletes

HOUSTON The program, called "Play It Smart", would be funded in part by a $400,000 grant from the Houston Touchdown Club, the National Football Foundation and the College Hall of Fame.

The program, created by the National Football Foundation in 1998, has six goals.

  1. Improve grade point averages;
  2. Increase the number of students taking SAT and ACT exams and improve scores on such tests;
  3. Increase graduation rates and opportunities for higher education;
  4. Enhance life-skills development;
  5. Increase opportunities for community service;
  6. Increase parental and family involvement
The education program targets athletes from economically disadvantaged areas. At the heart of the program is an "academic coach" who acts as a mentor, advocate, counselor and teacher. The academic coach works closely with school counselors and a district-wide academic coach who coordinates the program.

The cost of the program, estimated at $1,765,000, is covered by the $400,000 grant and $1,365,000 in federal funds. The HISD Board of Education will vote on the new program during its 5:00 p.m. meeting on Thursday, April 10, in the board auditorium of the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center (4400 W. 18th, 77092).

HISD Athletic Director Daryl Wade said, "While many of our athletes are able to go on to college on scholarships, others narrowly miss on academic requirements. We believe the personal approach of the Play It Smart program can make a difference in this regard and will lead to better grades, a higher graduation rate and more scholarships for our athletes.

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