Join us for S6:EP4 of the Sports Philanthropy Podcast as Brad Erickson, Executive Director at Inner-City Education sits down with our host; Roy Kessel to share how Inner City Education works to provide academic scholarships to private schools for disadvantaged Chicago area hockey players.
Brad was born in the Detroit area and moved to the suburbs of Cleveland at a young age. His father was a hockey player, and his mother was a swimmer & figure skater; causing him to learn to skate at the age of three years old. Brad attended Bowling Green State University where he studied Business, and moved to Chigaco for a job four years prior. in 1998, Brad’s friends requested help due to the lack of a hockey program, and in 2003 he started an education program called Inner-City Education (ICE) to identify academic scholarship recipients who play organized hockey and are unable to receive a quality education at their local public school.
Brad developed a strong relationship with the Blackhawks, getting multiple professional hockey players involved to raise money and gather equipment for the less fortunate. This helped launch a fundraising bowling event in 2006, selling out lanes and raising up to $215,000 for the event, which then raised $15,000. Brad took the opportunity to leave his job and start his own program in 2015, spending $103,000 on tuition and sending 23 kids on scholarships.
the Inner-City Education (ICE) Program has continuously been focused on helping children from underprivileged Chicago communities achieve their full potential by garnering access to educational opportunities and the sport of hockey that would otherwise be unattainable. The program is under the full belief that if youth were to be provided with the right opportunities and support, they have untapped potential; and look to help these kids live their desired goals and dreams.
Brad and Inner-City Education are now focused on recruiting new board members and boosting the mentoring program. Kids on a scholarship have been assigned a mentor, and the program is now working on assigning a mentor to every kid, not just those on scholarship.
Mentors have a large impact on children as both father-like figures and individuals whom they can truly look up to and learn from. Inner-City Education is looking for new mentors who are good role models, can talk every two weeks, and can attend quarterly group outings. Every volunteer goes through USA Hockey Safe Sport Training to familiarize themselves with mentorship; recognize, report, and prevent abuse; protect the organization; and attend kids’ games and events. Any advocacy and support for the Inner-City Education Program is more than welcome, as they look to positively impact the lives of many children searching for the chance to achieve their desired potential.
Highlights of Brad’s Podcast
- 00:00 Introduction
- 2:00 Experiences growing up as a child
- 4:00 Developing interest in working with lower-income kids
- 6:20 West Garfield Park opportunity to help kids get on the ice
- 9:30 Getting together with friends and starting a program
- 13:00 Blackhawks players getting involved and supporting
- 16:00 Using money to send qualified kids on scholarships
- 18:00 Growth of bowling events and leading to more opportunities for scholarships
- 22:00 The horizon of Inner-City Education Program
- 25:30 Volunteers and background check for those mentors
- 30:00 Parting words of wisdom