For the last 40 years, Paul Savramis has devoted his time and energy into creating one of the most respected basketball nonprofits in the US. He has witnessed thousands of student-athletes come in and out of the program, and, just as important, he’s watched the students form friendships with one another, despite their differences. He has also been blessed to form some friendships of his own and here reflects on a few of these.
Q: Who are some of the most influential people to come through our work with the Rising Stars Youth Foundation over the years?
Paul Savramis: We could literally give you a list several pages long, but a few names that come to mind are Jay Williams, Chuck Everson, Ron Stewart, and our very own executive director Dan Gimpel.
Q: Who is Chuck Everson?
Paul Savramis: Chuck was one of our very first players, and he came through one of our camps during our first year in operation. He stands out at more than 7 feet tall and was on the 1985 Villanova team that took out Georgetown in the national championship. Today, Chuck hosts a podcast, Big East Rewind, and remains a staunch supporter of RSYF.
Q: Tell us about Ron Stewart.
Paul Savramis: Ron was another player that came in early in the foundation’s history. He was with us the same time Chuck Everson was. Ron went on to coach the national team of France. Like Chuck, he continues to support the program.
Q: Which individuals has the Rising Stars Youth Foundation stayed most in contact with over the years?
Paul Savramis: That might be Jay Williams and Dan Gimpel. Jay, who you might know as a former pro basketball player and ESPN host, is an advocate of the program along with his beautiful mother. Dan currently serves as our executive director. Both of these men have helped the Rising Stars Youth Foundation grow into what it is today. They have shaped our program into something meaningful for our families as well as the community as a whole.
2020 was a year full of undeniable challenges and changes. For Rising Stars Youth Foundation, this meant reinventing a 40-year model to meet both. Here, we asked Rising Stars founder and president Paul Savramis what 2020 was like for the organization and how it was actually able to expand through a crisis.
Q: The pandemic affected everyone and made survival difficult for many sports-based programs. How did you navigate around the fact that basketball was banned in New York?
Paul Savramis: We utilized learning pods. This was a new direction, and we were able to use new programming to better reach our families. The learning pod program launched back in the fall and offered supplemental academic support along with social justice education to many of our youth. Students also had access to a book club to enhance literacy. We continue to use basketball as a motivation, and from September through December, we reached 70 student-athletes from low to middle-income backgrounds.
Paul Savramis recently announced that Rising Stars Youth Foundation had formed a partnership with community support agency Forestdale. In the following brief Q&A session, the RSYF founder answers a few questions about the organization and what this partnership might mean to the children in its care.
Q: What is Forestdale?
Paul Savramis: Forestdale is a family services organization. It was founded in 1854 as the Brooklyn Industrial School Association and Home for Destitute Children. Originally, its mission was to teach trade skills to children with no family support. Today, Forestdale serves as a child welfare agency, and it is the only one of its kind in Queens. It works within the foster care system to ensure the well-being of the most vulnerable children.
Paul Savramis says his heart is broken for the many student athletes that Rising Stars Youth Foundation serves. But, in this time of darkness, he says that his team and RSYF families have stepped up to shine a light in the worst of times. Keep reading as Savramis touches on a few key points of the way the organization has adjusted to the wildfire we call Covid-19.
Q: How is Rising Stars Youth Foundation supporting its student-scholars?
Paul Savramis: One of the most important things we’ve done is establish free programs in more than half a dozen areas. Our students can access everything from virtual magic tutorials to ballet classes and a book club. Although achieving structure during these unsettling times is difficult, having at least a few opportunities to take their minds off of the pandemic is crucial.
Rising Stars Youth Foundation had an eventful decade, says Paul Savramis. There was great sadness but also great joy and many accomplishments along the way. Here, we use 2020 as an opportunity to look back at our past as we prepare to shape our future.
According to Paul Savramis, the deaths of Tyrone Green and Tunney Maher cast a dark shadow on Rising Stars Youth Foundation. However, we picked ourselves up and used their love of the Rising Stars’ mission to continue on.
The 2010s gave us an opportunity to honor their memories by launching our community service initiatives with many deserving agencies throughout New York. Today, Rising Stars Youth Foundation partners with charities that feed the homeless, emphasize individuality and uniqueness among young women, and support the families of children with terminal illnesses. Paul Savramis explains, further, that his organization continues to forge partnerships that will have a lasting effect on both the student athletes and the people who they serve.
In early 2019, Paul Savramis found out that the Rising Stars Youth Foundation had been selected to receive a $30,000 grant from Signature Bank to help cover the cost of an SAT prep course through A List tutoring. What does this mean for students? Keep reading to find out.
According to Paul Savramis, student-athletes in the RS Scholars program will receive free SAT tutoring from A List Tutoring, one of New York’s most sought-after educational enhancement companies. The SAT prep course is offered in addition to a college planning workshop series.
Paul Savramis explains that scholarship students receive a long list of free services including recruitment support, an essay writing workshop, and multiple SAT prep course boot camps to help prepare them for the actual SAT.
The first phase of the program was a success, with 12 Rising Stars student-athletes participating. The students brought their best with an impressive 82% overall attendance rate. It was a grueling simulation, says Paul Savramis, with 15 hours of instruction and an eight-hour practice test in an environment that fully mimicked actual testing conditions. Students in phase one took their SAT test in June. Phase 2 is set to begin in July for those taking the SAT in August.
Paul Savramis, Art Inspired by Mothers Internationally Acclaimed Talent. Paul Savramis may be the founder of the Rising Stars Youth Foundations Basketball and Educational Platforms, but he is also the creative brains behind the non-profit marketing materials, logos and shirt designs.
In this follow up posting, Paul Savramis gets into more detail on how the addition of new RSYF directors of education, overall operations and a good right arm as his executive have given him the chance to be creative and pay homage to his late mother’s memory.
Having the luxury of some extra time and much less pressure at work day to day have allowed Savramis to revisit his early passions and do some artwork “on the side.”
Early training, and avid interest in art remain as a driving force in the life and work of Rising Stars Youth Foundation Founder and President Paul Savramis.
The demands and rigors of day to day may have changed somewhat for Rising Stars Youth Foundation Founder Paul Savramis but they certainly have not lessened.
We caught up with Paul at a recent Rising Stars event and the topic he wanted to discuss surprised us. Savramis was talking about creating new shirts, brochures, and website designs and how art, marketing, and design continue to play a big part of his daily life. “I can’t slow down, nor do I ever want to”, Savramis shared. “Purpose is everything! The day is totally different for me when it starts with a challenge or the prospect of a new project.”
Savramis continued, “Having Danny (RSYF Executive Director) taking on the mundane day-to-day foundation work is a godsend! Dan is amazing in the way he has put together an infrastructure staff that takes care of every aspect of the foundation. We now have directors of basketball operations for boys and girls, educational specialists, and a full complement of departmental expertise that allows me to do what I love best- At my pace and my time frame.”
That love is to continue to serve as RSYF ambassador and President but to also now look at outreach and new program development. That effort alone has more than tripled new RSYF initiatives over the past two years and created a valuable pipeline for Rising Stars core and fundamental purpose- To Promote Education. Continue reading →
Saturday, October 22, 2016 will be more than just a day to prepare for ghosts and goblins the following weekend, says Paul Savramis. The Rising Stars founder invites the community to Bayshore High School as Rising Stars student athletes join with the best of Nassau and Suffolk Long Island to play in support of the Seventh Annual Alzheimer’s All-Star Basketball Classic. The event, benefitting the Long Island Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, will feature some of high school basketball’s most elite players from Long Island. According to Paul Savramis, these players have been handpicked by coaches not just for their natural talent but for their character and off-court charisma.
The Alzheimer’s All-Star Basketball Classic is hosted in tribute to the father of Gordon Thomas, a New York Knicks draftee who played at St. John’s University. Paul Savramis reports that Alzheimer’s is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., with over 5 million sufferers at any given time. The Basketball Classic works to raise awareness of this disease and to help families with loved ones affected by Alzheimer’s. The Rising Stars Youth Foundation has chosen to sponsor this year’s event after seeing how impactful past events had been on the players and families from Rising Stars that attended. Chief among those attendees in last years event was Paul Savramis who participated in the awareness day at the hospital and formed a friendship with Gordon Thomas. “We at Rising Stars are proud to sponsor this year’s event”, said Savramis, “Gordon does a great job in utilizing basketball to create awareness for Alzheimer’s and leave a lasting impact on every student athlete that participates in this event.”
Rising Stars, Inc. founder and youth advocate Paul Savramis recently presented seven student athletes with educational assistance in the form of scholarships. Students have been awarded full four-year grants to prestigious private high schools.
On May 4, 2015, hundreds of well-wishers gathered at the Old Westboro Country Club, dressed to the nines, to honor seven outstanding young men. The students, Mr. Hassan Diarra, Mr. Jamani Fowler, Mr. Tyshawn High, Mr. Elijah Perry, Mr. Ryan Washington, Mr. Kimani Merchant, and Mr. Zayquan Warren were each awarded a four year tuition scholarship to their respective schools. Mr. Paul Savramis presented the awards.
Paul Savramis is the founder of Rising Stars, Inc. and an outspoken and well-known youth advocate. He says, “We use basketball as a vehicle to promote education.” He added at the ceremony that each of the young men had exemplified what the foundation was about: overcoming struggles and fighting for a better future. Continue reading →