NFL veterans host scholars at charity event at NFL Draft

Published On May 6, 2013 | By Shanda Foster

Among the celebrations at this year’s NFL Draft Week in New York, there were a number of great charitable events and fundraisers. One that specifically tugged at me was the Beyond the Boroughs/HOPE Africa NFL Draft Watch Fundraiser, which was held at PH-D in Manhattan’s Dream Hotel. Both Beyond the Boroughs and HOPE Africa are non-profits started by NFL athletes whose mission is higher education and excellence.

Beyond the Boroughs was founded by NFL veteran Tutan Reyes, and their event partner, HOPE Africa, was founded by Baltimore Raven James Ihedigbo. Both organizations strive toward making education attainable by awarding four-year scholarships — each worth up to $20,000 – to both male and female students of any race from any state. They aim to create deserved college scholarship opportunities for students with a primary focus on first generation collegians.

“HOPE Africa all came from wanting to help students of African descent in the USA achieve their goals in education while providing a positive network of relationships that they are connected to so they never feel alone throughout their college experience,” Ihedigbo said. “Me and Tu are very like minded in our thinking so us having our individual organizations partner together was a no brainer. It just means more students can be helped, and that’s what it’s all about, helping our people excel.”

BTB, a charity I have watched grow over the last five years, has been responsible for sending over 24 scholars to college. It was at its best this past weekend, hosting an event with over 200 guests from all different professional arenas including sports, business and media. The 200-plus turnout was the largest turnout in all five years of the organization’s existence.

The energy of the night was high and cocktails were flowing, thanks to American Harvest, but the main attraction was the heartfelt speeches by both Reyes and Ihedigbo, who spoke about how higher education helped shaped them and discussed the importance of sharing higher education with the youth of today.

The work that Ihedigbo and Reyes have put forth was apparent from the testimonies of the student scholars, who were also in attendance and took to the microphone to express their gratitude and talk about their experiences within the programs. They also spoke about what it was like to want to further their education without having the means to do so. For the student scholars, being able to say they are graduating at the top of their classes after all they fought through to get an education is unbelievable.

It’s really great to see athletes doing what they can to make lives better for others. Beyond the Boroughs and HOPE Africa hold events throughout the year to help raise money for future scholars. If you would like to learn more about Beyond the Boroughs and HOPE Africa, please visit: and

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About The Author

Shanda Foster is a media personality who got her start as a journalist. She began her career writing press releases and bios for clients at a public relations company. She then decided to pursue her passion of journalism and started contributing to fashion and entertainment online publications. Foster went on to contribute for other publications and began writing an entertainment column for In 2009, Shanda entered the broadcast media world as the third member of Playaction Sports Radio. Her entertainment reporting, sports knowledge and humorous personality gained her attention locally. So sit back and enjoy the ride!