Press Release: Willingham to teach how to get a real education with the NCAA at The Black Star Project in Chicago

President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative at Work in Chicago

University of North Carolina’s Mary Willingham Will Teach Coaches,

High School Principals, Parents and Students Athletes How to Earn Degrees from Colleges


Who:          Mary Willingham, Clinical Instructor and Academic Adviser at the University of North Carolina, has become a national folk hero for her efforts to ensure that student athletes leave college with a degree rather than just bad knees and hurt feelings.  Her life has been threatened numerous times for her work to teach college athletes to read well.  Her efforts have caused major universities across America to reconsider how they teach and treat student athletes.  Ms. Willingham is traveling to Chicago because of the “blurred lines” between athletics and academics that have caused major disruptions at many Chicago-area schools for student athletes.  Phillip Jackson, executive director of The Black Star Project is available to comment on the work of The Black Star Project and what “My Brother’s Keeper” will have to do in Chicago to succeed.


What:         President Barack Obama was probably speaking directly to Mary Willingham when he announced his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative.  He is asking the United States to do what Ms. Willingham has done for years-teach young Black and Hispanic men to strive for excellence!  The Black Star Project is hosting Ms. Willingham in a special session that will encourage and show young Black men, and their families, how to succeed in college.  Coaches, teachers and administrators are also invited to this session to learn how to advocate for and academically support student athletes.  This event is sponsored by The Black Star Project.


Why:          Over the past two weeks, Curie, Homewood-Flossmoor, Hyde Park, Bogan and Uplift High Schools have all been banned from the ISHA basketball state championship tournament.  Schools, parents and student athletes must learn that these young people are students first and athletes second.  They must also learn that sports is only one means to the end of earning a college degree.  Ms. Willingham will share information with student athletes and their families about students’ rights and responsibilities to help ensure they receive the social/academic supports they need to earn  college degrees.


Where:       The Black Star Project

                    3509 S. King Drive, Suite 2B  

                    Chicago, Illinois


When:        Saturday, March 8, 2014

                    3:00 pm (photo opportunities)

Liz Arredondo

VP of Communications at Paper Class Inc.

Liz is the VP of Communications for Paper Class Inc. under the direction of PCI's President, Mary Willingham. Liz is a strong believer in the promise of higher education and the goals of PCI to support college athletes' rights to a real education.

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