GARY, Ind. -Earvin “Magic” Johnson spent his Monday night in front of a crowd of more than 200 people discussing his latest educational related initiative, this time in Gary, Indiana.
Magic has proven time and time again how dedicated he is to helping urban youth. Just last year he opened up a new alternative school on Chicago’s West Side as a part of his Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies, and then April 28 he hosted a gala to raise scholarship funds for Gary youth.
The Gary Community School Corporation partnered with Magic to create something called “The Gary Promise.” The goal is to help students graduate high school and attend either college or a trade school. This promise is split into three parts. It will provide scholarship opportunities for any Gary student who has fulfilled the Indiana Core 40 requirements with at least a 2.5 GPA. Another part of it will offer mentoring and enrichment programs, and the last component to the Promise is the student leadership development training and career awareness projects throughout all grades.
“I believe in all young people and hopefully they’ll understand that even if they grow up poor, they don’t have to have poor dreams, like I grew up poor, but I didn’t have poor dreams,” Johnson said.
The former NBA player said he wants youth in urban communities to understand that they can do more than play a sport.
“So many times our young people concentrate more on their athletic ability or their entertainment talent and not on their education, so we want to make sure they can balance both and excel and that’s why I’m here, to help raise money for Gary’s school system so that we can get this money and help these young people achieve their goals and dreams,” Johnson said.
Dr. Cheryl Pruitt, superintendent of the Gary Schools, described the school system as “changing” and said positive changes are on the way.
“These children deserve the best in everything and that’s where we’re moving to,” she said.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said she is thrilled that Magic has taken an interest in Gary and said that he will have an economic impact on the city too. They met one-on-one to discuss some ideas earlier in the day and she said she believes there will be sustainable development like retail, as well as some industrial development.
“One of the things we know is that when people see successful people investing in communities, they are soon to follow and I think that he’s the leader and I’m hoping there will be a number of people who will be willing to follow that leader,” she said.