Last Sunday tennis great Andre Agassi was inducted into the U.S. Open Court of Champions. Agassi is famous for regaining his #1 world tennis ranking after falling to #141. But today, he helps children in need of a quality education pull off their own extraordinary achievements. Since his retirement, the eight-time Grand Slam winner has dedicated his time, effort, and financial resources to developing charter schools for at-risk children as an alternative to failing conventional public schools.
“Education is a tool a child can use to create their own life and hopefully change the world,” Agassi explained. “…But once you start, you can’t stop….What are you going to do then? Send them back into a failing system?…[S]uccess is going to be these children coming back to their community and making a difference in the next generation.”
“The [Andre Agassi Foundation for Education] is my heart and soul,” Agassi has said. “It’s my life’s work. It’s my future.”
Innovative schools like Agassi’s succeed because the people behind them are results-oriented, entrepreneurial, and committed to making decisions that are professionally, fiscally, and educationally sound, maximizing the impact of the private philanthropic investments they work hard to raise. If Andre Agassi puts half the passion into education reform that he put into advancing his tennis career, America’s at-risk children can only come out winners.
Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland program at Cascade Policy Institute.