Q: What exactly is Rising Stars, Inc.?
Rising Stars, Inc.: Rising Stars, Inc. is a not-for-profit charity established in 1996 that seeks to promote education through sports, specifically basketball. Its mission is to provide children the life skills and values they need to make good decisions throughout their formative years.
Q: How exactly do you accomplish your mission?
Rising Stars, Inc.: We utilize basketball and the power of teams to enroll children beginning in third grade into yearly programs that help to prepare them for the challenges they may face in high school.
Q: What are the goals of Rising Stars?
Rising Stars, Inc.: The ultimate goal of Rising Stars, Inc. is to see that each of its student-athletes graduate from high school, ready to succeed in college.
Q: Where are you located?
Rising Stars, Inc.: 657 Commercial Ave, Garden City, NY 11530.
Q: How old are the children you work with and where are they from?
Rising Stars, Inc.: Rising Stars, Inc. offers instructional clinics to boys and girls as young as kindergarten age and camps for children entering grades 4-12. The teams also participate in competition beginning in grade 4. Our in-house population goes from grade 4 until graduation from high school, grade 12. We are based in Long Island with programs throughout New York City so that children from the Tri-State area can be enrolled in our programs. Another New York City Rising Stars program is based at the Long Island City YMCA.
Q: I hear about Rising Stars Basketball, Rising Stars Youth Foundation and Rising Stars Inc. How, if at all, are they linked; and do they fit into one organization?
Rising Stars, Inc.: Yes. All three are part of the same organization — Rising Stars, Inc. Rising Stars, Inc. seeks to help children develop by giving them the opportunity to “Play, Learn and Grow.”
The vehicle it utilizes to enroll children into its programs and provides them with opportunities to play is called Rising Stars Basketball. Once they become part of Rising Stars Basketball, children are enrolled into a special life-skills curriculum and offered academic support to maintain grades and stay on track for high school graduation. Both components work as one by balancing the power of teams as the tool to build character and growing into more complete individuals through education.
Q: How much emphasis is put on basketball?
Rising Stars, Inc.: Basketball is the vehicle that draws kids to the yearly programs and is the glue that binds. As such, it is as important to Rising Stars, Inc. as any of its programs. Children enrolled in Rising Stars teams stay in them because they enjoy participation in the camps and the clinics. Our leaders also use basketball as the motivation for our kids to keep their grades at a level that is needed to play on our teams.
Q: How does education fit into these programs?
Rising Stars, Inc.: Education is an integral part of everything we do and defines our mission statement. Basketball is one of the primary reasons why children become interested in Rising Stars. But now, we also have an equally strong reputation for helping our kids to graduate high school and assisting them with admission into the college of their choice. Seeing student athletes go to college as a result of being a part of Rising Stars, Inc. attracts parents as much as basketball attracts players. We offer academic support and educational scholarships to private schools for those that need it, as well as a guidance program for our student-athletes to help them receive admission to their chosen college or university.
Q: That sounds a great deal like a number of other charities that offer financial aid to students. How do you differentiate yourself from other programs?
Rising Stars, Inc.: The difference is how well we are able to get to know the children we work with. When you have children enrolled in teams and attending camps for a few years in elementary school, you are able to identify the ones at risk and in need before they enter high school. Rising Stars, Inc. coaches are certified teachers and counselors who work with children and their families while creating relationships in schools and communities.
As far as Rising Stars, Inc. goes, a great deal is expected of these student-athletes and a great deal is given. This is not a revolving-door process where it’s just about giving money to a faceless application. At Rising Stars, Inc., you get what you earn. We hold our applicants accountable and encourage them to work towards their goals. It’s why we are successful over 90% of the time.
Q: Is the program offered for both boys and girls?
Rising Stars, Inc.: Yes. We are proud to announce that as of 2012, Rising Stars became coeducational with yearly programs under the direction of Bethany LeSueur and Tom Hughes. Bethany LeSueur is a legend in Long Island basketball and holds a number of high-school scoring records.
Q: How many children are in the program?
Rising Stars, Inc.: We strive to maintain a workable in-house population and limit the number of teams in each grade to allow each child the individual time and attention they need. There are currently 14 boys and 11 girls, grade 4-12 that we work with throughout the year. In addition to that, we offer a series of camps and clinics, year-round.
Q: How do I become a “Rising Star”? Is there a cost to join?
Rising Stars, Inc.: Rising Stars, Inc. accepts new children on teams throughout the year as numbers allow. New teams are created through tryouts, while existing teams have additions. There are financial-aid opportunities and scholarships for those who cannot afford the cost of being a part of a team.
Q: What is the season?
Rising Stars, Inc.: The program operates throughout the whole year. The fall season for grades 3 through 8 begins games in November with tryouts in September and practices beginning in October. Grades 9 through 12 continue to participate in clinics and training programs, but only participate in games with their HS teams until that season is over. We then begin spring travel teams and summer camps till the end of August for all ages.
Q: What are the programs?
Rising Stars, Inc.: In addition to teams, we offer camps and clinics throughout the year. There are also academic support programs and a college resource program available beginning in grade 9. The Rising Stars curriculum includes mandatory seminars on anti-bullying, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and other key concerns for youth development.
Q: Who are the coaches?
Rising Stars, Inc.: Certified teachers and counselors that are trained by Rising Stars professionals. Many of them serve as varsity coaches.
Q: I read that Rising Stars is a collaboration and partnership of like-minded organizations what does that mean?
Rising Stars, Inc.: Rising Stars, Inc. recognizes that it takes a village to raise a child and they welcome collaboration. Our partnerships have been vital to our growth and success. The Long Island City YMCA is home to NYC Rising Stars and the Rising Stars educational initiative. We share the YMCA’s key focus areas for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. It has been a seamless integration into a partnership with them. The NBA – most notably the NY Knicks – has embraced the way we utilize basketball and our host facility Long Island Lutheran shares our commitment to social responsibility by also hosting our community seminars. Rising Stars, Inc. is about balance. We form the bridge between family community and schools that help achieve that balance.
Q: How do I find information about your staff or board?
Rising Stars, Inc.: Visit risingstarsinc.net. Rising Stars, Inc. also features Web resources at AboutRisingStarsInc.com and hosts Wiki pages on Rising Stars, Inc., Rising Stars Basketball and the Rising Stars Youth Foundation.
Q: I read that ESPN’s Jay Williams is a Rising Star.
Rising Stars, Inc.: Jay Williams was a student and player of Rising Stars founder Paul Savramis. Jay approached Paul in 2007 asking if he could serve as ambassador for its programs and designated Rising Stars as his charity of choice. Since that time Jay and his mother Althea Williams have been instrumental in defining the new direction and philosophy of Rising Stars, Inc. as an educational platform.
Q: How do you measure your success?
Rising Stars, Inc.: One child at a time. Our philosophy revolves around the idea that the best way to predict the future is to create it. By graduating over 90% of our student athletes every year, we feel we have succeeded in our goals. More importantly, we have helped our students on their journey to successfully achieve theirs. We also measure success at Rising Stars, Inc. through people like Jay Williams and current Executive Director, Dan Gimpel, who have come back to the program to help others.
Q: What does the future hold for Rising Stars, Inc.?
Rising Stars, Inc.: We have a pilot program at the LIC YMCA — now currently in its third year of operation. Our goal is to improve on NYC’S dismal record of graduation of minority children from high school. This program is especially important to Rising Stars, Inc. as it can be the answer to many issues confronting children in the city.
Q: I want to donate to Rising Stars but want to make that donation to a specific program or child.
Rising Stars, Inc.: There are a number of scholarship programs available through Rising Stars, Inc. that are earmarked for specific children and programs. You would get to meet that child and stay in touch with them throughout high school as well as being given site visits to specific program areas that need help and would greatly benefit from your donations.
Q: How would I make that donation and how would I contact you for more information?
Rising Stars, Inc.: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Executive Director, Dan Gimpel at 917-202-2533.