Tyrese Sullivan (second from right), Kermit Carolina (far right) and Chazz Breland (far left) with the Sullivan Basketball Academy team.
As I have written before, few things are as inspiring to me as coming across someone who is passionate about helping others. Meet Tyrese Sullivan and Kermit Carolina.
Tyrese was a basketball star at New Haven’s James Hillhouse High School and Rhode Island University. Kermit is Executive Principal at Hillhouse.
“Kermit saved my life,” Tyrese told me. “He introduced me to basketball and taught me the importance of education and healthy living. That allowed me to go to college, but I always knew that I wanted to come back and do something similar to help the youth.”
And that is exactly what he has done.
After graduating from Rhode Island, Tyrese returned to New Haven and has teamed up with Kermit again to create the Sullivan Basketball Academy Mentoring Program.
The Academy promotes education, healthy eating and exercise among New Haven’s youth while also teaching them basketball skills. The program challenges the youth to succeed academically by providing constant monitoring and mentoring. In return, the athletes have the opportunity to travel around the country where they visit colleges and compete in basketball tournaments, as they will this month when they travel to Massachusetts, Atlantic City and Maryland.
“Some of these kids have never had a chance to leave New Haven,” Tyrese said.
Tyrese, who was born and raised in New Haven, said he is a living example of the impact such a program can have on a young man or woman. After graduating in 2006, Tyrese returned to New Haven and took over a youth program that had been developed by Kermit. After several years they decided to establish a non-profit organization and thus the Sullivan Academy was born.
“We are taking baby steps right now, but our plan is to grow this into something special,” Tyrese said. “We’ve received tremendous feedback from the community, but the biggest issue has been resources. Fundraising is so difficult, and I hate to ask the parents to reach into their pockets because they are already so stretched.”
That’s why it was an easy decision for the Tariq Farid Foundation to lend its support the Sullivan Academy. They are doing a tremendously important job of giving hope to our youth and helping them learn to become successful men and women. And that aligns perfectly with one of our missions, which is to support educational and skill development opportunities that enable individuals to reach their full potential.
“We are trying to give them balance in their lives,” Tyrese said. “We want let them know that there is much more to life than drugs, alcohol and violence.”