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Mother-son youth outreach expands with plans for summer camp

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 5/26/2017, 1:17 p.m.
William Duron Carter has a passion for assisting young people.
William D. Carter and his mother, Chana R. Carter, are starting a summer camp for 200 youngsters ages 6 to 14 through their ASSIST Foundation, best known for helping overlooked student athletes gain college sports scholarships. Regina H. Boone/Richmond Free Press

William Duron Carter has a passion for assisting young people.

He wants to go beyond his current efforts of helping an estimated 1,700 students from Central Virginia and Hampton Roads go to college on sports scholarships.

The 37-year-old Richmond native is embarking on a new venture. He is opening a summer camp for youths ages 6 to 14 through the ASSIST Foundation. The foundation was started by Mr. Carter and his mother, Chana R. Carter, and is operated on a shoestring budget.

A big man who talks softly, Mr. Carter said the camp is aimed at promoting positive values while engaging youngsters in creative activities ranging from sports to cooking, gardening and computer technology.

“We want this camp to be a fun place where campers can boost their self-esteem and creativity, to develop courage and humility and learn other values, such as goal-setting,” said Ms. Carter, a retired postal clerk and partner in the venture.

Camp ASSIST will run for nine weeks — from June 24 to Aug. 25 — at a cost of $150 per student per week, she said.

Mr. Carter said that Youth Excel & Advancement, a community mental health services provider, has made the camp possible.

He said Youth Excel has donated the use of several buildings for the camp, including the former Boys & Girls Club building at 910 S. Harrison St. in Richmond, and a complex at 500 Baptist Lane in Chester.

“We have all the space we need and more to operate successfully,” Mr. Carter said.

There are a lot of details to get a camp open, and the Carters are working hard to generate support, secure equipment and recruit the campers to make the program a success.

However, Mr. Carter and his mother, who are both unpaid volunteers in their foundation, have proved to be experts in making a way out of no way.

Since 2003 and shortly after graduating from Bridgewater College where he played basketball and earned a degree in business, Mr. Carter has operated a program to assist students with gaining sports scholarships. It’s the foundation’s centerpiece program, ASSIST Student Athletes. ASSIST stands for Athlete Scholastic Support Initiative for Securing Success Tomorrow.

Supporting himself as a substitute teacher in Chesterfield County and as a part-time recreation aide in Richmond, Mr. Carter has kept the program going, attracting coaches to come see overlooked players.

“Many of these kids come from families that can’t afford to participate in AAU leagues,” he said.

To help spotlight the young athletes, Mr. Carter stages clinics, showcases and other events — mostly in basketball and football — that provide college coaches seeking players to take another look at athletes they may have missed.

Mr. Carter acknowledges that plenty of players come through his program and still do not get a nibble, but each year, 50 or more young adults receive scholarship offers that open the door to higher education.

Mr. Carter wins rave reviews from coaches for his effort.

Karen Blair, Virginia Commonwealth University’s assistant women’s basketball coach who leads recruiting, is typical in her praise of Mr. Carter and his ASSIST program.