CA Fwd has named financial advisor Wornel Simpson a Forward Thinker for his work with teens to improve grades and academic outlook through sports.
Simpson started a basketball program in Sacramento, but points scored and games won aren’t the only signs of success. Instead, one of the statistics he’s most proud of is the rise in the grade point average of his 12-16b year old players.
“They finished the year with an average 3.8 GPA, “ said the 53-year-old Sacramento resident.
Started in 2009 with just 10 kids, the basketball program known as Team Sage combines athletic expectations with basketball, setting the bar high on and off the court. Players and their parents must sign an agreement to maintain a 3.3 grade point average. Fall under that, and players head to mandatory tutoring. In addition, if they haven’t finished their homework, they cannot practice.
“We demand academic excellence,” Simpson said. “Our goal is to have every kid be UC eligible by the end of high school.”
So successful was his first team that Simpson was asked to replicate the effort. With the help of a city grant, he has launched five more teams in multi-family housing areas of Sacramento and grown the tutoring program to serve 300 kids.
The support Team Sage received from the city exemplifies the kind of role Simpson feels government should play to ensure a community’s success.
“I need them to continue to see the value in supporting activities like Team Sage financially,” he said. “We also need our government to ensure that schools are open and available. A lot of athletic programs have been curtailed because of budgets, but there are a lot of volunteers our there. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of opening up the doors and letting volunteers man the posts.”