LB Derrick Brooks (left center, tan shirt) has demonstrated a lasting commitment to furthering education through his Brooks' Bunch program
Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks has been honored many times during his professional career, for achievements both on and off the field.
As a football player, Brooks is a six-time Pro Bowler and the recipient of the 2002 NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.
As a force in the community, he has received such accolades as the Walter Payton/NFL Man of the Year award, the Sporting News "Good Guy" award, the Florida Sports Awards "Hometown Hero", a Silver Medallion award from the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), an Educational Visionary award from the Hillsborough Education Foundation and the Civic Leader Giant Steps Award from the National Consortium for Academics and Sports.
On Wednesday, Brooks received another honor, but this one carries with it an even greater responsibility. Governor Jeb Bush has appointed Brooks to serve on the Florida State University Board of Trustees.
"I'm very grateful for this appointment," said Brooks. "I hope to be a positive force in the decision making process and I am taking my appointment very seriously."
Brooks, who will be succeeding Lee Hinkle, has been appointed for a term beginning Wednesday, March 5, 2003 and ending on a date to be determined by the Florida Legislature.
Brooks' role on the board of trustees, and that of his fellow board members, will be to ensure the efficient and effective use of resources while taking into account the complex issues relating to cost-benefit analysis.
The trustees, along with the President/CEO that they choose, are responsible for providing high-quality educational programs to the students attending all Florida state schools, while ensuring that the programs that are provided remain cost-effective and comply with the rules and policies set forth by the Florida Board of Education.
In addition to these responsibilities, the trustees must also engage in short-term and long-term strategic planning that utilizes the varied resources available to them.
"Derrick's commitment to young people coupled with his dedication to Florida State University makes him an excellent choice for the university's board of trustees," said Governor Bush. "His past experience with Florida State as an honor student and member of the football team has also given him an understanding of the students who attend Florida State University. I know he will serve the university well."
Brooks' selection to the Board of trustees followed a lengthy application process in which Brooks had to answer several questions regarding his personal history and provide detailed information in regards to his personal commitment to education.
As many Buccaneers fans and Tampa Bay area residents can attest, one of Brooks' main commitment has long been to the children he mentors from the Belmont Height and Ybor City Boys & Girls Clubs.
In 1996, Brooks created his "Brooks' Bunch" program to assist some of Tampa's most underprivileged neighborhoods. Brooks' Bunch kids have become an integral part of Derrick's life and he has become a defining influence in theirs, offering friendship, support, guidance and assistance.
In addition to his holiday programs and the game day ticket program, Brooks hosts educational field trips for the kids attending the Boys & Girls Clubs.
The "Brooks' Bunch – Wild, Wild West" program was the latest in the series of educational trips sponsored by Brooks. From July 7 – 18, 2001, Brooks took 27 kids from Tampa Boys & Girls Clubs on a 12-day tour of the western United States. The Wild, Wild West tour included stops at the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Woods National Monument, a gold mine, a ghost town, and the Challenger's Boys & Girls Club in Los Angeles.
The "Brooks' Bunch – Africa 2000" program was another of the educational trips sponsored by Brooks. From June 24 – July 5, Brooks took 24 kids from Tampa and Orlando Boys & Girls Clubs on a 12-day tour of Africa. In Africa, Brooks' Bunch visited Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope, Soweto, the Motswari Game Reserve, Swaziland and a school in Johannesburg. The group took a tour of Robben Island, where former South African President Nelson Mandela spent 26 years in prison fighting apartheid, and visited Lesedi, where they witnessed an exciting presentation of African tribal customs.
In June 1999, Derrick treated a group of 13 kids from the Ponce de Leon Boys & Girls Club to an educational field trip to Washington, D.C. While in the nation's capitol, Brooks' Bunch toured such sites as the Supreme Court, the FBI building, the Smithsonian Institution, Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial. They had meetings with Florida Senators Bob Graham and Connie Mack and were introduced to Socks, the First Family's cat, during a private tour of the White House.
In 1998, Brooks took a group of students to Atlanta to visit such monuments as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center, Ebenezer Baptist Church and Six Flags Over Georgia amusement park.
To earn a spot on any of the Brooks Bunch trips, students are required to write essays, perform various research assignments and present a final assignment to a panel of judges. All assignments, along with the students' attendance and behavioral marks during the classes, are tabulated and counted towards a final grade for the class. Students who completed their assignments, demonstrated good behavior and maintained their grades in school earned a ticket.
The goal of this year's program is to help prepare every student for life after high school by helping them prepare for the SAT, getting them involved in community service, providing them with life skills such as budgeting and teaching them responsibility by allowing them to take an active role in the trip planning. The program will culminate with a tour of three to four colleges, with one of those schools being Brooks' alma mater, Florida State University.
"I feel that this is a powerful program that changes people's lives," said Brooks. "I know it has changed my life and I like to think that it has changed the lives of some of the kids that have been involved with it in the past. The program is a learning experience with the goal of making the boys and girls better men and women."
Apparently, some people in very high places agree with Brooks.