Tennis great Andre Agassi, the rock star Grand Slam champion of the 1990’s, has left his mark in the sport. But Agassi’s current philanthropic endeavours are helping him touch more lives, far beyond tennis, and in a more direct way.
The 46-year-old eight-time Grand Slam champion has funded 69 schools, focusing his efforts to provide education for the next generation.
The tennis star had dropped out of school while he was in eighth grade to pursue the sport professionally. A decision he regretted later in life, even writing about it at large in his autobiography, Open.
That happens to be the main reason why his efforts right now revolve around providing educational choices for children.
Agassi, who is married to German tennis legend Steffi Graf, opened a charter school, the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, in his home state of Las Vegas in 2001.
Almost a decade later, he joined forces with real estate investor Bobby Turner to launch the for-profit Turner-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund, which pays to build facilities for new charter schools.
Rocketship Rise Academy in southeast Washington (DC’s Terrace neighbourhood, which happens to be the poorest part of the city), that was inaugurated by Agassi in November, is the 69th school supported by the fund. They are expecting to open 100 more schools around the country by 2020, which would meet the educational needs of 55,000 children.
“Helping kids a lot of ways, recognizing that I was sticking a Band-Aid on real issues and I wasn’t creating systemic change,” Agassi was quoted in an interview on the74million.org.
“The only way to do that was to get the tools, which is education. So that led me to take it upon myself to build a K-12 charter school in the most economically challenged area of Las Vegas. And I learned a lot — unfortunately, some hard lessons as well. (We) had more kids on the waiting list than in the school, so we had to figure out an out-of-the-box way to facilitate the expansion of it. And this is what led me here,” he added.