SOURCE: Vernon and Vontae Davis Family Foundation

January 20, 2012 19:06 ET

Vernon Davis, NFL Tight End, Pro Bowler and Two-Time Team Captain, Confronts the Tough Issue of High School Attrition in His Hometown of Washington, DC

Davis Challenges DC Area Youth at His Former High School to Become MVPs Both on and off the Field by Improving Their Classroom GPAs and Attendance Records With Support From a Free 10-Week Academic and Sports Mentoring Program He Launches Tomorrow

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - Jan 20, 2012) - NFL All Pro Vernon Davis is not only scoring winning touchdowns on the field and making football history, as in last week's playoff match-up between the New Orleans Saints and the San Francisco 49ers, but the two-time team captain is also confronting the issue of high school attrition in his hometown of Washington, DC. Tomorrow, Saturday January 21st, 50 high school athletes from Dunbar Senior High School, which Davis attended, will begin "The Vernon Davis Sound Mind, Sound Body Saturday Tutoring and Mentoring Program." The goal of the free 10-week mentoring program is to boost students' math (algebra), reading comprehension and writing skills, thereby raising their SAT scores, all in the hopes of making college education possible for participants.

"I grew up like many of the student athletes at Dunbar, with little money, but lots of commitment and a drive to achieve something better for my life," says Davis. "Most of my friends growing up are either in jail today or dead and I know this would not be the case if they had gone to college. So this program is about giving young men the academic support they need to succeed, not only in high school and college sports, but in life."

The curriculum will be taught by some of the leading academic instructors in the Washington, DC area where a number of educators in the public school system estimate that as many as 40% of 9th grade students do not return to high school for their 10th grade year.

"The whole purpose of teaching is to awaken the natural curiosity of young minds," says Dunbar Senior High School Assistant Principal Semanthe Bright, who is heartened by this program which she believes will help make college a more certain reality for young students who might otherwise miss the life changing opportunity.

"You need something to look forward to when you're working hard and giving your all," says Davis, who plans to spend a day in DC with all of the student participants and has also created additional incentives to encourage them along. Students with the most improved SAT test scores, consistent and improved classroom attendance and those who demonstrate leadership qualities in school will receive iPads and gift bags full of San Francisco 49ers paraphernalia, among other things.

Siraaj Hasan, President and co-founder of the Lifting As We Climb Foundation, which will run this program, says having NFL players, especially a history making star such as Vernon Davis, maintain a presence with these young men can help save lives. "Vernon showing up shows he cares and that helps inspire these young men," says Hasan.

Davis's longtime off-season trainer Myron Flowers, a Washington, DC-based sports performance veteran who has been working with Davis for nearly a decade since his college years at the University of Maryland, will run the program's athletic training curriculum. Flowers, who will be with Davis this weekend in San Francisco where the 49ers will play against The New York Giants for a shot at the Super Bowl, says Davis' involvement in this program brings his notoriety in the world of sports full circle. "I couldn't be more proud of Vernon for giving back to kids who are just like he was and helping to shape the lives of these young men."

The program is being funded through the Vernon and Vontae Davis Family Foundation and spearheaded by The Lifting As We Climb Foundation. For more information go to www.davisfamilyfoundation.org.

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