2,000+ teens
served in the Greater Rochester Area since 2015

Champion Academy Members on college tour at University of Rochester


The Champion Academy Extreme Mentoring & Empowerment Initiative provides teens in poverty with the critical support, consistency, and accountability necessary to overcome barriers and reach their fullest potential.


Roland Williams was born in Rochester’s challenged 19th Ward and overcame incredible odds to graduate from the Rochester City School District, Syracuse University and become an NFL legend and Rochester’s first and only Super Bowl Champion.   But Roland's heart has alway been bigger than his smile. A lifelong philanthropist, In 2015, he founded the Champion Academy Extreme Mentoring & Empowerment Initiative to:
  • Provide a cost-effective solution that attacks the complex roots of impoverished urban teens’ social, emotional and academic failures.
  • Provide the much-needed support challenged school districts and law enforcement desperately need to do their job.
  • Empower individuals with first-hand knowledge of the harsh realities of Rochester’s poverty to lead the charge to transform the next generation.
  • Teach underachieving teens the critical life skills necessary to survive and thrive in the workforce of the 21st century.


Christopher Rush

Executive Director
Chris was born and raised in the 19th ward of Rochester and is a product of the Rochester City School District. He went on to St. John Fisher College and continued to earn his MBA. He is grateful to have had many people in his life holding him accountable to his dreams. Now he's doing the same for the members of Champion Academy.
Stephanie Armstrong
Advisory Board Member
Vice President of Business Development, J2 Medical Supply
Michelle Ashby
Advisory Board Member
CEO Tipping Point Communications
Patrick Burke
Advisory Board Member
Managing Partner, Burke Group
Brad Champlin
Advisory Board Member
CEO, Champlin & Associates
David Dworkin
Advisory Board Member
Managing Partner, LLD Enterprises
Nikki Hamblin
Advisory Board Member
Managing Director of Intermediary Sales, Manning & Napier
Michelle Hutchinson
Advisory Board Member
Operations Partner, BrownHutchinson LLP
Eric Leblanc
Advisory Board Member
President, EL Consulting
Todd Levine
Advisory Board Member
President, Founder Sport Group
Bob Morgan
Advisory Board Member
CEO, Upstate Roofing and Painting
Edward Schwarz
Advisory Board Member
Director of the Center for Musculoskeletal Research, University of Rochester
Roland Williams
Founder & Board Chair
Chairman & CEO of Brown Diamond Holdings


Extreme Mentoring and Empowerment Model (EME Model) principles are introduced to members all year long through seven engaging, educational and impactful program elements:
Member Orientation

Prospective members are introduced to the Champion Academy with an intensive, 10-day experience to learn Extreme Mentoring and Empowerment principles. Ran similarly to a ‘military boot-camp’, prospective members become familiar with the benefits, expectations and requirements of program participation. Prospects set clear academic and citizenship goals for the upcoming year and are introduced to the abundance of resources available to help them win.

Member Accountability

Following successful completion of the Summer Orientation, each prospect officially becomes a ‘member’ and is assigned a Member Accountability Coach (MAC) to support their efforts to achieve goals set for school, at home and in the community for the upcoming year. During the summer, MACs conduct home visits, get to know members and their families and help create a customized game plan to succeed. Throughout the year, MACs visit members at school, go to members’ extracurricular events, show up at their job or whatever else it takes to keep members focused and connected to their desired future. When appropriate, MACs use peer, volunteer and/or celebrity mentors to energize, educate and encourage members to remain committed to their academic and citizenship goals.

Community Service

Members are required to complete a minimum of 10 hours of community service each year. Whether picking up trash in neighborhoods, giving blankets to the homeless or serving the elderly, these character-building activities help encourage empathy, build a strong work ethic and teach members what they have to be grateful for.


The Champion Academy has revolutionized the mentoring space with the creation of a dynamic ecosystem of electronic engagement and support. Each school day, the Champion Academy begins its member engagement at 6:15am via a motivational phone call, encouraging text message and/or social media post to constantly remind teens of what it takes to succeed. When school is not in session, members use private social media pages and messaging services to connect with MACs, fellow members and support resources 24/7.

Exposure Opportunities

Members go on trips all year long to open minds, debunk stereotypes and formally introduce them to the abundance of career opportunities, cultures, and images outside the bubble of urban poverty.  Trips have included visits to the Corning Museum of Glass, Country Club of Rochester, University of Maryland, University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester Yacht Club, Rochester Chess Center, Lollipop Farm, Eastman Theatre, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Washington DC.  

Extra-Curricular Activities

Members are required to learn and grow during the entire school year through participation in extra-curricular activities. Whether joining a sports team, connecting with a school club, obtaining a job, securing an internship, taking singing lessons, participating in a STEM program or learning an instrument, members are encouraged to stay engaged in activities that will develop critical life skills while simultaneously providing members a much-needed distraction from ‘toxic mentors’. Whenever possible, Champion Academy covers or assists members in covering all costs for extra-curricular participation.  

Monthly Meetups

For one week each month during the academic year, the Champion Academy provides a physical location for members to meet, learn and grow. Open daily from 3-8pm, members receive free transportation, interactive workshops, educational presentations, dinner, snacks, and quality time with volunteer, peer and paid mentors, eager to help with their future success.







Member Accountability