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A Hopeful Homecoming



Newark, New Jersey is not the easiest place in which to grow up. For years, New Jersey’s largest city has struggled against drugs, gun violence and theft. Kids are often faced with pressures from the street before they can solve an algebra problem. But to Randy Foye, it’s the place he calls home. And he is doing everything he can to make it a better home for the next generation.

Foye, currently a guard with the L.A. Clippers, saw firsthand the struggles facing kids and young adults in his community. Even school wasn’t safe. “Once you entered the schools, you [could] see someone with a gun or see someone get cut, jumped…anything [could] happen on any given day,” Foye explains. This upbringing certainly prepared him for handling himself on the streets but the classroom was a different story. “I didn’t feel [Newark] prepared you for the classroom at the next level… Going to Villanova from East Side High School, I was not prepared. I had to do a lot of extra tutoring; I had to learn how to do a lot of different things just to stay afloat there. It took me two years to really learn [what I needed to do to be successful and] by my junior year I finally felt as though I was where I was supposed to be.” It was during this time that Foye started talking with friends about changing Newark. The casual talk turned into a determination to make a difference. “When I was drafted in 2006, Newark was in a terrible place as far as gang violence, drugs and single-mother houses, and I felt as though I had to get my message across.” And what message did he want to instill in the kids of Newark? “I want to help kids understand that education is the key to everything in life,” Foye says.

In addition to coat and food drives, the Randy Foye Foundation runs the Assist 4 Life Program which “is designed to give young students the basic tools and provide incentives to perform well academically, athletically and socially by helping them find ways to succeed through hard work and maintaining a positive attitude.” The program isn’t a walk in the park; the kids have to write an essay and then be interviewed before joining the program. “[The kids] represent [the Foundation] by the way they handle themselves in the classroom, outside the classroom and through leadership,” explains Foye. “Our biggest thing is grades: the kids have to maintain a certain grade point average and we usually push our kids to become honor roll students. But if they’re not, if they’re C students, D students, we’re not going to give up on them; we’re going to try to help them reach that goal of being an honor roll student.”

Growing up, no one instilled in Foye the importance of education – and that’s exactly why he is so passionate about passing his message on to the next generation. When Foye speaks with these kids, he wants to be an inspiration to them, to be an example of what can happen if you make your education a priority. But he also knows he can’t do it alone; he needs the help of the parents as well. He wants “the parents to be more involved with their kids…to make sure [their kids] sit down and do their homework, [to] read with [their] child and help them understand that the key to anything is education.” He seems to be making headway with the parents, as he often finds them approaching him in awe that this man who carries himself so well grew up in Newark. If the parents are impressed with Foye, hopefully they will continue to impress Foye’s message upon their kids.

Foye has big dreams for Newark. In terms of tangible goals, he wants to see high school graduation rates and college enrollment increase. As for the intangibles, he wants to help kids grow as human beings by understanding that if they work hard, the sky is the limit. He wants them to be strong-minded, to help others and to realize that life is too short for the negative activities surrounding Newark. Foye stands in front of these kids as an example of how hard work and education can change your life for the better. And with Foye standing by them, these kids have a chance to follow in his footsteps.

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