Originally published on Gazette.net (Maryland Community News). Written by Jamie Anfenson-Comeau
A pair of Eleanor Roosevelt High School alumni are hoping to teach students at their Greenbelt alma mater how to succeed by learning to “FLYE” right.
Sam Sesay, 30, of Bowie and Cortni Grange, 29, of Takoma Park have created the nonprofit Future Leaders and Young Entrepreneurs, or FLYE, to teach skills such as financial management, self-marketing and gentlemanly behavior to minority male teen athletes.
“They’ll know how to act in an interview, how to talk to people, how to present themselves, how to market themselves positively,” Sesay said. “Even if they don’t make it to the NFL, they’ll know how to get a job, do an interview and create a résumé. They’ll know how to be successful and turn their passions into something lucrative.”
The two piloted an eightweek FLYE program last school year with members of the varsity football team, but this year have expanded it to other school athletes as well, holding a kickoff event at the school on Aug. 18.
“The reason FLYE works with minority male athletes is because we see that as one of the major opportunities in our communities,” Grange said. “If the athlete is the one leading the charge in terms of professional development, in terms of how to treat young women, in terms of how to carry yourself as a gentleman, how to be a humanitarian, it will create a ripple effect to the rest of the school.”
Teke Carlson, 17, of Greenbelt said participating in the pilot last year helped him start his own business, making alterations to clothes.
“It’s great. They’re teaching us that football is not everything you need in life,” said Carlson, who plans to go into business. “They’ve taught us a lot about business, how to develop our own business model. They really helped me a lot.”
Joshua Adebayo, 17, of Lanham, said his experience in the program last year taught him the value of thinking ahead.
“The program makes you think about the future; what you want to be and how you want to get there, after high school,” said Adebayo, who plans to study physical therapy in college.
FLYE meets with students weekly for 15 weeks and brings in guest speakers to talk on a number of subjects.
“We have different individuals from different backgrounds coming to speak with the kids, so they’ll see others doing something positive with their lives,” Sasay said. “Some of them are former athletes, so they’ll talk about how they transitioned from sports to being an entrepreneur, a lawyer, a doctor, a government employee, a father.”
Sesay said he saw a need for such a program while he was still a student at Eleanor Roosevelt, where he also worked as an intern with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency. Sesay graduated from ERHS in 2003.
“I got the full experience of how to work in a government setting, how to work in a corporate setting that a lot of my peers didn’t have,” Sasay said. “So when I looked back, I said, ‘how can I change that?’”
Grange said they hope to expand the program to other schools as well.
The program’s website can be found online at flye.org/.