Oakland Raiders LB Thomas Howard remembers spending his afternoons as a kid in an after-school program. He remembers how participating in something after school kept him out of trouble. The impact an after-school program had on him was one of the reasons he chose to give back to the programs serving children in the Bay Area.
Howard recently visited The Bay Area After-School All-Stars at Horace Mann Elementary in San Jose. The Bay Area After-School All-Stars is a program that provides free after school programming for underserved youth. The program currently serves 26 schools in San Jose and is looking to expand to more schools in the future. Students attend the program for four hours each day after school, doing their homework creating art and playing sports.
Howard arrived at the school just in time for the start of arts and crafts. The students greeted him with a wall-to-wall hand-painted sign welcoming him. Before he walked through the door, you could hear the excited whispers of the students and they cheered and held up their sign proudly to greet their guest. After migrating back to their groups, the students worked on their art projects and Howard met each group to see what the students participated in each day. Following the arts and crafts portion of the afternoon, the kids (in grades 2-5) asked for autographs and took pictures with their NFL hero.
Howard visited Horace Mann Elementary to get a better understanding of the after-school program. His foundation, the Thomas Howard Foundation, made a donation through After-School All-Stars Touchdown Shutdown, in which NFL players donate money for defensive plays made during the season. Howard's foundation works to build programs that enhance students academic and athletic goals, making the After-School All-Stars a perfect fit.
After visiting Horace Mann Elementary, Howard made his way to the Silicon Valley Capital Club for a fundraiser benefitting The Bay Area After-School All-Stars. Also in attendance was San Jose Sharks play-by-play announcer, Dan Rusanowsky, Executive Vice President and CFO of Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment, Charlie Faas, and San Jose State's Associate Athletic Director, John Poch. They acted as celebrity bartenders, accepting tips to raise money. Guests were also able to purchase raffle tickets for various prizes to support the program.
During the reception, Howard presented his donation to The Bay Area After-School All-Stars, explaining to the crowd how much programs such as the All-Stars helped him as a child. He described how these programs provide a positive outlet for kids in the Bay Area and can make the difference for their futures. He felt honored to be able to give back to kids with whom he so closely relates.
As the night drew to a close, the Bay Area After-School All-Stars and Howard spoke to many of the guests, helping to raise funds for the continued growth and sustainability of the after-school programs.