PURE Youth Athletics combines football, education and agriculture

Community Changers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Progressing Under Restraints and Extremes. That’s what PURE stands for. 

PURE Youth Athletics Alliance is a nonprofit private school for at-risk students.

“Our missions is to empower school aged males through athletics, education and agriculture,” said Melvin Cole, founder and CEO.

Football is the carrot. Once the kids arrive, Cole knows it’s about more than football. It’s about giving them an opportunity to break generational poverty.

“I was a teenage father,” he said. “I had a run-in with the law. A gang member. Drug dealer. So I can understand what these kids are going through. At the same time, I had desires for football. Changing the trajectory of my life as well.”

Tevin Carter and Alpha Diallo attend PURE. Tevin, a four-star quarterback, has been with PURE for 10 years.

He already has college offers lined up to play football once he graduates.

Alpha, 16, plays defensive back and joined PURE when Shelby County Schools switched to virtual learning and cancelled sports. He loves the agriculture side of PURE.

“Learn about vegetables and fruits. How much protein we need in our body, calcium we need in our bodies. That’s the good thing about coming to PURE,” he said.

PURE has a year-round residential program that houses up to 18 boys. Breakfast, lunch and dinner plus snacks included. 

Early workouts, at least six hours of school, plus afternoon workouts keep the boys occupied. 

They don’t charge tuition. Cole calls it sweat equity.

“This is not a give me program. Or come feel sorry us,” he said. “It’s about sweat equity.”

If you want the opportunity, you have to work for it. Each bunk bed is made by the kids, along with the raised beds in their garden and all the grass is mowed by the boys.

“A kid can’t give you money but you know what, they can give you effort in the classroom. They can give you effort in the weight room. They can give you effort by following directions. They can give you effort by doing the right thing,” Cole said. 

That is why our anonymous donor wanted to give PURE $1,000. Because when you combine academics, athletics and character development, you have a winning combination.

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