The Beyond the Boroughs National Scholarship Fund is a 501(c)(3) public charity founded by NFL veteran Tutan Reyes in 2007. The organization provides financial aid to students who have received a college acceptance letter, but do not have all of the necessary funds to finance their education. The Scholarship Fund provides assistance across all ethnic backgrounds, grade point averages, and academic interests.
The Beyond the Boroughs Sixth Annual NFL Draft Viewing Fundraiser took place on Thursday, May 8, at the Dream Hotel in NYC's Meatpacking District. Attendees participated in a silent auction that featured a variety of sports memorabilia, excursions, and VIP experiences, including an commemorative photo of the 1992 U.S. men's Olympic basketball team ( the "Dream Team"), access to the ESPY Awards pre-party at the Playboy Mansion, and a home-cooked meal for ten from the chef at famed Italian restaurant Rao's. Guests also enjoyed hosted cocktails, and passed hors d'oeuvres, while watching the first round of the NFL draft.
Notable guests at the fundraiser included Tennessee Titans safety George Wilson, NFL veteran Takeo Spikes, actor and model Tyson Beckford, Grammy-nominated singer Elle Varner, Rohan Marley, Bravo's "Blood, Sweat, and Heels" stars Melyssa Ford Demetria Lucas, and Geneva Thomas, R&B group Allure, former New York Giant Carlos Emmons, former Tennessee Titan Keith Bullock, New York Jets player Leger Douzable, celebrity chef Roblé Ali, Miss Universe 2013 Gabriela Isler, model and television personality Claudia Jordan, and many other athletes and entertainment industry professionals.
The Beyond the Boroughs National Scholarship Fund has awarded 40 scholarships since its inception, and has helped students attend New York University, University of Central Florida, Syracuse University, University of California at Berkeley, and other institutions. In an exclusive interview, Reyes recalled one of the organization's many success stories.
"One student named Amy was actually one of our initial scholars," the Beyond the Boroughs founder told Examiner.com. "She was also homeless, taking showers at friends and family members' houses in Chicago. She went to St. John's [University]... graduated from St. John's, and now she's in Tulane [University] in grad school.
"She came from humble means, humble beginnings, like myself-- like many of the people that are here-- and she's a success story in her own right."
NFL player George Wilson expressed the importance of education in building a strong foundation.
"Education is the key to every opportunity that you want in life," he said. "Beyond the Boroughs gives people who are underprivileged the opportunity to be able to balance the playing field. That's the foundation of your life that everything else is going to be built upon."
Former San Diego Chargers linebacker Takeo Spikes described education as a means for students to realize their possibilities.
"Education allows you to see so many things, in areas that you never thought you would have seen, except for on TV," he told Examiner.com. "Experiences are priceless. Once you get an education, you control your own destiny.
"That's why I fell in love with what the big homie, Tutan, is doing. He's not only giving a chance, but he's providing an opportunity for whoever wants it... whoever qualifies. Whenever you can give back to your community, it's a beautiful thing."
In addition to providing scholarships of up to $20,000 over four years, Beyond the Boroughs sends students to the Republic of Botswana to engage in community service.
"We have an opportunity to have them give back as well," Reyes said. "Just like I was helped out with a scholarship, and I'm paying it forward now with Beyond the Boroughs, we're letting the students know that you're never too young to be involved in philanthropy.
"They go to Maun, Botswana and they do mission work over there... [they] teach the students the English dialect, and also help the infrastructure, in terms of their schools and homes. There are underserved students over there in Africa, and these students in Beyond the Boroughs are giving back [to them]."
To learn more about Beyond the Boroughs, or to make a donation, please visit www.BeyondtheBoroughs.org.