Q: What exactly is Rising Stars Inc.?

Rising Stars, Inc.: Rising Stars Inc. is a not for profit, charitable youth foundation dedicated to helping children overcome the many challenges they face throughout the formative years of high school. Our founding mission is to utilize sports and the power of teams to promote education and encourage our student athletes to pursue academic success alongside sports. Our goal is to help youth learn valuable life skills that help facilitate a more successful passage into adulthood.

Q: What are the primary goals of your organization?

Rising Stars, Inc: First and foremost, we wish to see our student-athletes receive a diploma and graduate high school issue-free and college-ready. Our secondary goal is to empower each of our seniors in their efforts to combine academics, athletics and community and helping them receive acceptance into a college of their choice where they can flourish in their chosen academic and professional pursuits.

PLAY-LEARN-GROW-SQUAREQ: What does your continued reference to “PLAY, LEARN, GROW” actually mean?

Rising Stars, Inc.: We believe that playing is an essential component for learning and  that a great deal of learning occurs through playing at an early age. Rising Stars provides children with a yearly program of activities that encourage them to play and learn. Basketball is our “vehicle” and we strive to make that as much fun as possible so that players stay with the programs and continue to learn and grow throughout high school. Every one of our coaches is also a teacher and every skill taught in basketball is taught in a way to teach about life and promote education. We also have established a Rising Stars core curriculum that allows children to develop values and to serve in community projects that help them develop and grow into more complete adults.

Q: How is education used as the foundation of Rising Stars?

Rising Stars, Inc.: Education is the undergirding element in our mission. We have an impressive history combining athletics and academics in helping children graduate high school and gain admission into the university, college or technical school of their choice. Basketball is our platform, but education is our foundation. We use educational scholarships and academic support programs as a foundation to help us ensure that every child is given an equal chance of success of graduating High School.

Rising Stars -ONE-ON-ONEQ: How do you stand out from the crowd of other youth programs available in greater New York City?

Rising Stars, Inc.: The difference lies in the one-on-one relationships we develop with our student-athletes and in getting to know them and their families personally at a very early age. Youth attend our camps and join our teams during their elementary school years and stay with us until graduation from high school. Our kids are not just names to us – they are part of a real team that is a family. We are able to identify those who are at risk at a very early age, and we do so to make a real difference. Our coaches work directly with youth and their parents throughout the year and act as a bridge to create a stable balance of social, academic, and athletic growth in the communities and schools. We get to know every participant in our programs as well as any other family member.

Q: Do you offer programs for both boys and girls?

Rising Stars, Inc.: Yes. In 2012, our organization signed on Bethany LeSueur to develop and direct our girls’ program. Bethany is a basketball legend on Long Island and holds a number of high-school records including all-time leading scorer. More than that, Bethany is an educator and a mother that demands respect among her peers both on and off the court. Bethany is married to Rising Stars Operations Director, Tom Hughes. Together, they have been instrumental in bringing the girls to par with the boys in two years’ time.

Q: Is there an age limit for participation in your programs and where are your programs based?

Rising Stars, Inc.: Our instructional clinics are available to girls and boys starting in kindergarten. Camps and clinics are open to children entering grades 4-12. Teams are available for boys and girls in 3rd grade, with travel teams beginning in 6th grade. We are based out of Long Island with programs hosted throughout New York City. As a result, youth from all across the Tri-State area have the opportunity to participate.

RISING-STARS-INC-GIRLQ: Is there a cost or fee associated with being a part of the Rising Stars programs similar to the costs of joining a YMCA or Boy’s Club?

Rising Stars, Inc.: Yes, similar to a YMCA or other youth organization, Rising Stars has to charge fees to help offset the rising costs of facilities, tournament costs and other expenses. There are, however, program scholarships and financial aid opportunities available for those families unable to afford the costs of being  part of our yearly programs. Scholarships are offered to attend camps, clinics and all events that we offer.

Q: How long is the season?

Rising Stars, Inc.: Our program runs all year round. All ages can participate in our clinics summer camps and spring travel teams. Students in Grades 3 through 8 begin games in November. Grades 9 through 12 continue to participate in training programs and clinics, but only participate in high school games until that season is over in February or March. We then begin spring travel teams and summer camps until the end of August for all ages.

Q: How do I enroll my child?

Rising Stars, Inc.: You can always contact one of our directors at info@risingstarsinc.org to find out about camps, clinics, training courses and team tryouts.

Q: Besides your basketball programs, what other programs are available for youth?

RISING-STARS-INC-LEARNINGRising Stars, Inc.: There are a variety of academic support programs for student-athletes of all ages, with a college resource program established for participants in grades 9 through 12. We also host seminars that form a Rising Stars core curriculum that we encourage our team members to attend. These seminars feature conversations about important topics like peer pressure, gangs, bullying, tobacco, drugs and alcohol. Opportunities to do community service with our partner organizations are also available and encouraged.

Q: How does the Rising Stars leadership measure progress?

Rising Stars, Inc.: We measure our success by how many children return to our programs every year and by how many children we are able to help get into college after they graduate our programs. We have had an incredible record of graduation from High School, both issue-free and college-ready. Equally important to our measure of success is the number of graduates who return to the program after college.

Q: Who are the Rising Stars coaches and how are they qualified to coach?

Rising Stars, Inc: Our coaches are licensed teachers, trained and certified by our leadership team. Many have degrees in physical, special or elementary education and all have a background in athletics.

Q: Where can I learn more about your leadership and your board members?

Rising Stars, Inc.: For further information, check out RisingStarsInc.org and AboutRisingStarsInc.com. We also have Wiki pages for Rising Stars Youth Foundation and Rising Stars Basketball.

Q: What are the future plans for Rising Stars, Inc.?

Rising Stars, Inc.: In recent months, we have struck up a mutually beneficial partnership with the Long Island YMCA. The mission there is to improve the poor graduation rates among the minority and increase the number of youth in New York City that are enrolled in our programs.

Q: Is it possible to make a donation to a particular child or program?

Rising Stars, Inc.: Yes, there are several scholarship programs created specifically for certain programs and children. In many instances, donors have the ability to meet the student-athletes during site visits.

Q: How can I make a donation to Rising Stars?

Rising Stars, Inc.: For more information, call Dan Gimpel at 917-202-2533 or email info@risingstarsinc.org.

Q: What is the physical address of Rising Stars?

Rising Stars, Inc.: Our location is 657 Commercial Ave, Garden City, NY 11530.