Raiderette Marcy encourages a young student during Banking on Our Future at Fruitvale Elementary School. **Photo by Tony Gonzales
The Oakland Raiders teamed up with Operation HOPE, US Bank and Oakland Unified School District for the Banking on Our Future program at Fruitvale Elementary School in Oakland. Former Raiders LB Sam Williams and Raiderettes Marcy and Natalie attended the program, which taught the young students about financial literacy and empowerment.
"It's been great," said Kevin Fleming, Senior Vice President, Global Director of Field Operations for Operation HOPE, on the event. "We've had a great partnership with Oakland Unified School District, the Oakland Raiders, US Bank and Operation HOPE, so the enthusiasm is high. The kids are learning about financial literacy as well as learning the importance of physical education and how the two come together."
The day started with an assembly for the students during which Williams had the opportunity to speak to the students about planning for their futures. "I was here at Fruitvale Elementary School talking to third through fifth graders about financial security and planning for their financial future," said Williams. "I had a chance to talk to them about my transition from the football world to the business world and gave them tools to help them succeed as well."
Fleming was impressed with Williams' ability to relate with the kids and help them understand the importance of financial planning. "Sam was excellent and what he was able to do was to tie in the importance of financial literacy and living a dignified life with following your dreams and his dream of becoming a professional football player and recognized early on in his career that he could live his dream and also had to make smart financial decisions," said Fleming. "His [NFL] career was eight awesome years and he needed to plan properly financially for his future. And that message got across to the youth during the assembly so we really appreciate his words to the students."
In Williams' eight seasons with the Raiders, he was actively involved in the community and was excited to participate again. "It feels so good. That was a big part of my career," said Williams. "Every Tuesday I'd go out in the community and give back so to be able to get a piece of that back in my life feels really good."
Following the assembly, the kids participated in a Gatorade Junior Training Camp out on the field. "I had a good time hanging out with the kids, encouraging them, keeping them active because it's good for the kids to stay active and get out here and participate," said Williams. "They enjoyed seeing me and I enjoyed them just as much."
The Raiderettes encouraged and cheered on the students as they ran through the drills. "I think today went really well," said Raiderette Marcy. "It was so cute to see all the kids get excited about the Raiders and financial literacy. I had fun running football drills with the kids and cheering them on."
Raiderette Natalie also enjoyed participating in Banking on Our Future. "I was so happy to be able to attend Fruitvale Elementary School today," said Raiderette Natalie. "The kids were so thrilled to participate and have the Raiders come out to their school. What also impressed me were the caring and supportive staff and teachers, truly outstanding. My favorite appearances are definitely those that involve children and Fruitvale did not disappoint. I am very proud to be representing the Raiders here today."
Williams and the Raiderettes understood the importance of spending time with the students in the local community. "It's important to give back to the community," said Williams. "I remember when I was the age of these kids listening to older people and learning from their mistakes was valuable."
"It's important for the Raiderettes to go out and interact with the community because our Oakland fans do so much for us, doing events like this is the least we can do to give back," said Raiderette Marcy.
The Fruitvale Elementary School pledge states – "We are the young Fruitvale scholars. We are college bound. We believe in ourselves and our community and our school. We believe." The Banking on Our Future program was another step towards fulfilling that pledge.