McQuaid Ballers was launched in 2015 with funds from the William C Morin Sr Foundation. The program innovator was Riley Benner, a high school junior who saw a need to do something greater than himself.
Statement from Curtis Despard (OCFS):
Industry Campus, Recreational Director (program supervisor),
Office of Children & Family Services, Rush, NY:
“The McQuaid baller's program has been the ultimate addition in programs for youth at Industry. Since the start of the Baller's program, the McQuaid students have had a huge impact on our youth. They have shown great leadership and have been exceptionally consistent, the one thing our kids haven't had in their lives. Every McQuaid session the kids at Industry are fully engaged, whether it's in recreation activities or during mentoring groups. The program started out with a small core of participants and now has rose to over a third of our population. So clearly, McQuaid is having a great impact, which is especially difficult to do with our population. Great job Boys”
An innovative social justice project started by McQuaid Jesuit students
Concept: Each week, McQuaid upperclassmen visit the Industry Juvenile Detention
Center where they play basketball with the residents there. Over time, all the “ballers”
develop relationships with one another
The program brings together peers, while one group comes from a suburban, somewhat privileged background, and the other from an urban, difficult, possibly dangerous environment
But when the boys are done playing basketball, they sit down, share a meal that the
McQuaid students have brought, and just TALK. Before long, each kid, resident and McQuaid student alike, didn't see the differences between each other, but the similarities.
The “mentoring” of the program occurs when the boys sit down to eat and have a structured conversation centered around a prepared topic. Some topics include: Brotherhood, Role Models, Decision Making, Learning Experiences, Manhood.
McQuaid Ballers' Goals
Reduce the recidivism rate within the juvenile detention center
Ensure that when a child leaves a center after being in the program, he will never return back into the system
Show underprivileged youth that despite what they’ve been told or how they’ve been treated, that they are valuable to society.
Give them the tools to succeed in the real world
To make them realize that their future is not determined by their past