Posts Tagged ‘Brees Dream Foundation’

A True Saint

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Drew  Brittany Brees, Operation Kids: Rebuilding New Orleans CampaignNo Super Bowl-bound player has energized a city like quarterback Drew Brees has energized New Orleans. Much ado has been made about Drew’s on-field success and his charity work. However, few articles have detailed the extent of his philanthropic endeavors. It is more than just a donation or an athletic field. It is an investment in a whole city’s children.

It is not unusual for high-profile athletes to form their own foundations and participate in philanthropic work. It is unusual to dedicate the personal time and resources Brees and his wife, Brittany, commit to their foundation and community. They have become a model of philanthropy “done right.” I have worked with some of the sports world’s most committed philanthropists. Brees joins these as a shining example of how an athlete’s prominence can be translated into a lasting legacy of social impact and lives changed.

Brees has an intuitive sense regarding the opportunity and responsibility surrounding his life as a just-arrived, high-profile athlete in a city still reeling from Hurricane Katrina. He viewed his move to New Orleans as being about more than just football. He saw an opportunity to make a meaningful difference.

Brees was introduced to us in the summer of 2006, and we worked hand-in-hand to help his philanthropic vision become a reality. Each project he worked on through his Operation Kids: Rebuilding Dreams in New Orleans campaign was a “catalyst project” that would continue to generate additional recovery. Employing the same discipline he exhibits on the field, Brees thought in terms of impact and measurable results in his philanthropy.

Brees’ hands-on participation and a disciplined methodology made this campaign different. The funding and management of the catalyst projects immediately benefited the community, and then triggered the flow of funding for other adjoining, critical projects by relieving the “tug-of-war” that held funds captive.  Brees created an environment where giving and results were multiplied and expected. Each project was completed on time and on budget.

He also insisted on another step. Each of the projects was required to work under a strict method of project “coaching” prior to funds being dispersed. A local project coordinator was available at any time, and unannounced site visits occurred to ensure required progress. Drew also introduced “Expect More,” a results-driven motto to the community that echoed throughout the process.

Brees also demonstrated primary fiscal commitment by contributing more than $250,000 of the $2 million raised. He also exercised his professional influence and secured used weight-room equipment for a school’s football program. Large companies, who had grown dissatisfied with the impact of their prior giving in New Orleans, were energized and reached out unsolicited to join the collaborative effort.

The results, a mere 2 years later, mean:

  • More than 2,000 children ages 5-18 have increased access to after-school programming.
  • 110 children of low- and moderate-income families attend the first fully accredited childcare facility rebuilt post-Katrina.
  • Thousands of students and community residents utilize brand-new athletic facilities at a major park and several schools.
  • 25 high school students participated in summer science internships previously not available to them.
  • Hands-on nutrition, health and education resources are available to more than 550 school students and their families as part of the funding and development of the innovative Edible Schoolyard-New Orleans.
  • More than 2,000 intellectually disabled youth in New Orleans have mentors as part of reestablishing the local Best Buddies chapters.

While we celebrate the Saints’ march to the Super Bowl, I hope equal attention is given to the Brees family for their inspiring philanthropic leadership on behalf of a beleaguered city’s children.

-Don Stirling

Note: Drew Brees i s part of the Pepsi Refresh Super Bowl Grant Project. We encourage everyone to click here and vote for Drew between now and Friday, February 5. The winner gets $100k grant to go toward their charitable project. Drew would use his grant money to rebuild the F. Taylor Hope Lodge for children fighting cancer.

The OK List of America's Best

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

As we congratulate Bill and Kathy Magee and Senator Orrin Hatch on their well-deserved recognition in November’s U.S. News & World Report, we are mindful of other great leaders with whom we have had the privilege of working during the past year. With that, I’d like to contribute an “Operation Kids: America’s Best Leaders in 2009″ by highlighting additional leaders who have made an enormous impact in their communities and, due to their commitment and influence, the world.

Anthony Kennedy Shriver: In 1989 Anthony created a mentoring program on his college campus. That project turned into a life’s work. Today, through his stewardship and entrepreneurial spirit, Best Buddies® has grown into a leading nonprofit entity with increasingly international reach across six continents. It has established a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They positively impact more than 400,000 participants every year.  The organization is active in each of the 50 United States, and operates accredited international programs in 44 countries.

Drew Brees:   When Drew left the San Diego Chargers and signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2006, he and his wife Brittany took a higher view of the situation. They believed that they were directed to New Orleans for a reason, and committed to become part of the community. They immediately sought way to help rebuild post-Katrina. Today, Drew and Brittany have rebuilt nearly a dozen successful projects including athletic facilities, day care centers and critical education programs. Their adopted city of New Orleans have hailed them as true “Saints” in the city.

Steve Young: With an NFL Hall of Fame career behind him, Steve maintains a broadcast career, participates in a private equity firm, and continues to provide leadership of the Forever Young Foundation. Forever Young Foundation is a non-profit organization that serves children facing significant physical, emotional, and financial challenges. They focus on efforts to provide academic, athletic, and therapeutic opportunities to at-risk youth. They have expanded beyond their historical focus on Northern California, Arizona and Utah, to include development projects like the Forever Young Zones, Youth Education Town Centers (YET Centers) in each Super Bowl city and now, international initiatives including the building and expansion of schools in Ghana, Africa.

John A. (Jack) Calhoun: In his “retirement,” Jack manages the 13-California City Gang Prevention Network for the National League of Cities Institute for Youth, Education and Families. In 2007 and has published a book, Hope Matters: The Untold Story of How Faith Works in America. He has spent a lifetime attempting to improve the lot of children and families and the communities in which they live. President Carter appointed Jack to the nation’s top children’s job, Commissioner of the Administration for Children, Youth and Families, where he oversaw such programs as Head Start, Child Welfare, The Center to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect, the Office of Domestic Violence and the Office for Families. For 20 years he served at the National Crime Prevention Council as its President and CEO. He also has served as Vice President of the Child Welfare League of America, was the Massachusetts Commissioner of the Department of Youth Services, and chair of both the Adolescent and the State of the Family Task Forces.

We give our deepest gratitude and respect to these great Americans who have truly made an enormous impact on their communities and the world around them.