Maryland nonprofit teaches athletes entrepreneurship while helping the homeless
Founder says it’s important for students to have a plan B if sports careers don’t work out
Selfless is one way to describe someone who develops a business that helps others help others.
As a college athlete, Sam Sesay knew he needed to take his education seriously. His passion for helping others and his eagerness to learn about business motivated him to complete college and start a career in project management while developing a nonprofit agency.
Now, he’s the founder and president of Game Plan Inc., a nonprofit organization and life-skills program that aims to help high school student-athletes maintain a positive attitude no matter what they do.
The organization recently teamed up with So Others Can Keep Striding (S.O.C.K.S.) to collect and pass out socks to the homeless and those in the neighborhood in need.
“Our student-athletes have given over 500 socks to the homeless in [Washington,] D.C., this summer and they plan to deliver more along with other initiatives supporting the homeless this upcoming school year,” Sesay, 32, told The Undefeated.
S.O.C.K.S. launched a competition at area high schools. Students were split into teams and were required to start collecting socks. The competition fit the mold of Sesay’s vision and offered the students participating in Game Plan the opportunity to gain valuable work experience, earn community service hours and learn many elements of entrepreneurship.
“Student-athletes have such busy schedules, so there has to be creative ways to provide them with opportunities to gain valuable skills to prepare them for life after sports. This competition was a great way to accomplish that,” Sesay said.
“It was a great feeling being able to make a positive impact in the world,” Lawtez Rogers, a rising senior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland, said. “Teenagers like me are expected to do bad things, so I am proud to show I am more than a stereotype.”
Damon Jones, founder and chief giver of S.O.C.K.S., said the Game Plan team has consistently demonstrated a commitment to helping young people achieve their highest potential.
“For that, I salute them and am honored to provide a platform for young people to make a positive impact in the community,” Jones said.
Jones is also a former student-athlete. He played football at Harvard University.
“I wanted to work with organizations of course that I trusted and that were doing positive things,” Sesay said of S.O.C.K.S. “I had a relationship with [Damon Jones] over the years, so we brainstormed on how exactly we could do that. We formed a partnership so our student-athletes could help get his initiative known and also for our student-athletes to gain that experience that they wouldn’t ever receive. Just because student-athletes are so focused on sports, they really block everything else out.”
The main goal of Game Plan is to serve as an extension to a high school’s athletic program, working with the athletic director, coaches and athletes to develop dynamic programs. They host a program within the organization called 1st PLACE, which focuses on personal development, leadership development, athletic excellence, college preparedness and entrepreneurship training through community service.
During Sesay’s years on the track team at George Mason University, he noticed that some of his peers didn’t have a plan B if sports did not pan out.
“Their only plan was to make it pro and they didn’t make it pro. They were pretty much lost in life,” he said. “I wanted to help prevent that by providing these different athletes with different tools for them to succeed and really use sports as a vehicle to help to be successful in life or use the lessons that they learned in sports to be a vehicle to help the transition in their careers.”
Sesay received his bachelor’s degree in information management and a masters in entrepreneurship. He’s rapidly grown the outreach of Game Plan. This school year, the program is offered for students at nine schools.
From this life-changing experience of partnering with S.O.C.K.S, Game Plan has made a commitment to assist the homeless by partnering with different organizations throughout the year.
Jaylen Carter, a junior at St. Frances Academy in Baltimore, collected more than 200 socks from his classmates, friends and church members.
“This experience was great to be able to give socks out to homeless and learn that socks are the most wanted item from the homeless,” Carter said.