Rising Stars Youth Foundation receives dozens of applicants for its intern position each year. According to Paul Savramis, many of these young men and women looking to volunteer or their time are highly qualified. However, one applicant, Izzy DeFrancesco, really stood out.
Q: Who is Izzy DeFrancesco?
Paul Savramis: Izzy is a student at the University of Delaware College. She is pursuing a bachelors of arts, and her majors are in Women’s Studies and Communications. On paper, DeFrancesco has an impeccable set of credentials, including being a Dean’s List scholar with a 4.0 GPA. While these accolades caught everyone’s attention, it was this young woman’s personality that really stood out.
Q: What makes DeFrancesco such a strong candidate and good intern?
Paul Savramis: Her vibrance and energy. She has a zest for life, and she is not afraid to attack problems with a smile. One thing that truly stands out is her creativity and ability to breathe new life into everything we’ve thrown at her.
Paul Savramis has been teaching children on and off the court for more than three decades. During that time, he’s picked up quite a few pointers on how, exactly, to encourage today’s youth to be more and do more for themselves and their communities. Here, the founder of Rising Stars Youth Foundation shares insights.
Q: What makes a student-athlete a Rising Star?
Paul Savramis: A Rising Star is someone who wants to be better for himself, his family, and his community. These are healthy and confident children who work hard every day to improve from the inside out. Our Rising Stars are those who put in the hard work both on and off the court and maintain a positive attitude.
Paul Savramis says that the Rising Stars Youth Foundation has brought him much joy over the years. But there are a few things that bring the non-profit’s founder greater satisfaction than seeing where the lives of the student athletes lead them.
According to Paul Savramis, Rising Stars Youth Foundation has given birth to a few of the sport’s most notable citizens. Jay Williams, formerly of the Chicago Bulls, is one of these. Williams currently serves as Rising Stars Youth Foundation’s goodwill ambassador. The five-star athlete and his family are huge supporters of youth sports, both in New York and across the country.
COVID-19 has cost the world so much, says Paul Savramis. And, despite waning numbers in many areas, it continues to take a toll. And few people are paying more than the students and athletes of the Rising Stars Youth Foundation Family.
According to Paul Savramis, while the coronavirus was making waves in China, it popped up on his radar. He knew based on data available as far back as February that, should the virus make it to the US, it would change the way his organization operated. Basketball is, after all, a contact sport, and contact is the one thing that has to be avoided to slow the spread.
According to Paul Savramis, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way his organization, Rising Stars Youth Foundation, works. Typically, the basketball outreach program hosts classes and events after school, on the weekends, and during the spring and summer breaks. However, social distancing and shelter-in-place orders have put an abrupt and unfortunate stop to this. Read on as Savramis opens up about a few things that are going to look different for Rising Stars for 2020.
Q: Rising Stars is known for its annual gala. Will this go on?
Paul Savramis: Sadly, for the first time in nearly 20 years, we have had to cancel our fundraising gala. This event is made possible by generous support from our community, and it is one of the primary ways that we spread awareness of the needs of our 200+ families. The gala, which was originally slated for May 19, would’ve brought together business and community leaders as well as some of the faces of Rising Stars Youth Foundation.
Rising Stars Youth Foundation has been using basketball to bridge the gap between athletics and academics for more than two decades. What started as a modest program for a handful of at-risk youth has blossomed into an outreach program that serves more than 350 boys and girls from 3rd through 12th grade, says founder Paul Savramis.
Q: How does Rising Stars work?
Paul Savramis: Rising Stars is a nonprofit outreach program that uses basketball as a vehicle to bring kids off the streets and put them on the court. We rely on donations and community support to provide both basketball and educational opportunities to the students we serve.
Under Armour is one of the most prolific names in sports apparel, says Paul Savramis. But what many people don’t know is that the clothing giant is also a huge supporter of childhood athletics. They sponsor the UA Circuit, which consists of several teams ranging from youth to high school. Rising Stars Youth Foundation is lucky enough to have a few UA teams of their own.
According to Paul Savramis, in addition to the senior boys and girls having a great run this summer the boys’ UA Future 4th 5th 6th and 7th-grade teams recently made their mark on the UA Circuit.
In Kansas City this year, the 4th graders made it to the Final Four and the status of being listed as among the best in the country, being beaten only by the #1 team. They finished the championship round at 13-1. At such a young age, each of these talented ball players showed passion, drive, and determination.
Rising Stars Youth Foundation founder Paul Savramis says that spring continues to be exciting for the Youth Foundations championship Junior NBA team. These select young athletes were invited to an event to celebrate the inaugural Wizenard Series Training Camp and meet basketball legend Kobe Bryant!
According to Paul Savramis, the event celebrated Kobe’s newest book and other programs produced by Bryant. Granity studios, which Bryant also founded, published the book and is known for telling creative stories that revolve around sports.
Paul Savramis said of the event, “We are thrilled to be a part of this…[and] to partner with another organization that utilizes sports to awaken the imagination of young athletes and foster emotional and mental development that allows them to reach their full potential.”
Paul Savramis has been using basketball to teach children about life skills for over 30 years.
During that time he has had both ample time and opportunity to witness the many ways this
simple game can transform lives.
Basketball as a sport in itself, and especially when played on a team working with others in a
structured and positive environment, has many benefits. These benefits help a child’s development and make life’s lessons easier to adapt into that development but the one benefit Savramis wants to see more of is when those lessons come prepackaged with potential travel opportunities.
Q: What makes Rising Stars Youth Foundation so special?
Paul Savramis: There are many things, and possibly too many to list here. But one thing that
comes to mind at the moment is simply how grouping kids together for a common goal – in this
case, a basketball goal – changes lives. Many of the students receive scholarships for
academics and others are the first in their family history to attend a college but the opportunity
to travel, see the world outside the environment of a block or a avenue is something they may
not do ever be able to do otherwise.
2018 saw unprecedented growth for Paul Savramis and his nonprofit organization Rising Stars Youth Foundation. Savramis explains that just one year ago Rising Stars had a single outreach program, which was hosted at the Great South Bay YMCA. Today, Rising Stars has six boys teams and two girls teams for student athletes between fourth and eighth grade.
Q: What has contributed to such growth?
Paul Savramis: Rising Stars has enjoyed tremendous success over the last three decades. We have proven that giving children a positive outlet and somewhere they can be constructive is one of the best ways to keep them off the street and in school. Our exceptional leadership team has done an amazing job of working with local YMCAs and community centers to offer our afterschool programs and summer camps to students in need.