Thanks to a new two-year, $500,000 grant, the Downtown Boxing Gym on Detroit's east side will be able to build an apprenticeship program and get closer to its goal of serving 250 students by 2020.
The grant, presented by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, is the largest the program has received to date, according to a news release.
“This support is critical and it will help change lives for generations to come,” said Khali Sweeney, founder and CEO of the Downtown Boxing Gym. “This grant will enable us to create longevity for the program and ensure Detroit students receive the tools and resources to succeed long after any one of us is here. We thank the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation for helping us move our mission forward in such a significant and meaningful way.”
Sweeney is a 2017 Top 10 CNN Hero. He started the program in 2007 in order to provide tutoring, mentorship, enrichment and community service opportunities to metro Detroit youth.
“Coach Khali and the entire team at the Downtown Boxing Gym have found a way to create an environment that combines all the ingredients needed for children to realize their full potential,” said Jim Boyle, vice president of programs and communications at the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation. “In addition to the academic enrichment and opportunities to participate in a variety of sports, the gym is a community that demonstrates to kids they are valued.”
The program currently serves 150 boys and girls from ages 8 to 18. And since the program began, 100 percent of student participants have graduated from high school.
Grant funds will also support the hiring of additional full-time, professional educators for the program.