Robert Lewis & BASE Honors Graduating Seniors at Celebration in Roxbury memorializes a special moment made possible by a proven program.
Boston, MA — Massachusetts Secretary of Education James Peyser and Urban College of Boston President Michael Taylor joined BASE leaders, coaches, and families to honor 37 graduating Boston high school seniors at a celebration in Roxbury Friday night. The event recognized the successes of each student-athlete in overcoming high school careers marked by countless COVID-19 interruptions and pandemic-era challenges.
“You all took a different path to get here and had to overcome some obstacles along the way,” said Stephanie Monteiro-Merritt, BASE Interim President. “It’s a culmination of hard work, dedication, and determination, both in the classroom and on the field or the court. With a little help and support from your family, friends, coaches, and mentors, you made it. And we’re so proud of each and every one of you.”
Since 2013, The BASE has harnessed the power of youth sports to engage urban teens and build pathways to success – sending more than 300 student-athletes off to college, career training, or the workforce in the past nine years.
“I’ve never met so many people who are so willing to help and make you feel welcome,” said graduate Alona Lynch who has been part of The BASE since 6th grade. “It’s a really diverse place. I’m really accepted for who I am here.”
Lynch, a soon-to-be a first-generation college student, and the rest of the class of 2022 are the second group to benefit from a comprehensive College Access Program established by The BASE in 2021. Through that program, The BASE helps student-athletes and their families navigate the college admissions process from start to finish. Danato Christi, of Cambridge, credits the program with his success.
“They’re all really good people,” Christi said. “When you’re being supported through this process that’s extremely hard and really stressful – there’s always someone there to help you. A coach, one of the staff, they’re always there to help you.”
At the event, students went up on stage and announced their college or career plans to cheers from the crowd. Each graduate was gifted an iPad and a $200 gift card to use toward college expenses such as books or other supplies. Keynote speaker, Robert Lewis Jr., founder and past president of The BASE, spoke about the graduates being part of a leadership pipeline.
“When we start to think about this opportunity that you have to go on to college, or those that are going into the workforce or military service, all of that is to get you ready to be these active and creative and extraordinary citizens that our communities, our cities, our Commonwealth needs now more than ever. And our country needs you now more than ever,” Lewis Jr. told the group. “What all of this has been about is developing the next generation of incredible leaders,” Lewis Jr. said. “What Boston needs now is a qualified, skilled workforce and that is you.”
The evening also honored Taylor, the outgoing President of Urban College of Boston. In 2017, Taylor and Lewis Jr. established ‘The BASE Freshman Year’ partnership, through which high school athletes can take college classes at the BASE headquarters. So far, 54 students have benefitted from the program. Taylor and Lewis Jr. spoke about leading by example.
“You have an obligation, I believe, because of the success you’ve had, to help others find their pathway to success. That’s your paying back,” Taylor said.
“We also need you as examples of success. And you are the next generation of Boston’s best,” said Lewis Jr. “I want you to know how proud we are of you.”
BASE college and career plans include:
American International College
Bunker Hill Community College
Consigli Construction Internship
Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Monroe Community College
Northern Essex Community College
Roxbury Community College
St. Thomas University
Tallahassee Community College
University of Bridgeport
ABOUT THE BASE:
The BASE was established in 2013 by Robert Lewis, Jr., building on his 40 years of experience coaching and leading the Boston Astros baseball team. Mr. Lewis first began coaching a group of young men in the Villa Victoria community in Boston’s South End in 1978, with only a handful of players. Over four decades, the program grew and achieved great success, and hundreds of young men and women have represented the Astros in countless games and tournaments. Today, The BASE extends the powerful culture and foundation of the Astros to more young people than ever. Over the years, the formula has been consistent – hard work, belief, teamwork, and success. From the Villa Victoria Astros in 1978, to the South End Astros in 1987; eventually becoming the Boston Astros, who would go on to win the Triple Crown Sports Championship crown in 2010, and be named the TCS Team of the Year in 2012, besting 40,000 baseball teams from across the country. The program has grown and evolved, but at its core, it has not changed. The key is, it was never just about baseball – from its inception, the Astros program was focused on developing and highlighting Urban Talent and leading young people to success in academics, careers, health, and life. In 2013, Robert launched the BASE to shift the national mindset about what it takes for urban youth to succeed. Serving boys and girls, The BASE leverages their passion for sports and surrounds them in a culture of hard work, belief, and love, while providing access to opportunities. The BASE creates pathways to higher education and meaningful careers through scholarships, academic support, and internships. Opened in 2019, our state-of-the-art National Headquarters in Roxbury’s Newmarket Square enables programming and services to further expand, with an emphasis on overall health and wellness of our young people, their families, and our community.
Deanna LeBlanc | Castle
Senior Account Director
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