In a world in which technology seems to reign, Seattle Seahawk Russell Okung turns to an old proverb to describe what he and his Greater Foundation are trying to accomplish.
“I had somebody in my life who was able to tell me I was more than I thought I was, so we want to replicate that and make it repeatable and be able to scale it someday,” Okung explains. “How can you do that? You can do that by teaching people how to fish. A lot of people have very charitable hearts, they want to give back, but we need to teach people how to fish, how to create something, how to create opportunities for yourself. That’s what we’re about.”
The Greater Foundation, which was founded by Okung and former Oklahoma State University teammate Andrew Mc-Gee, won’t be taking kids on fishing trips anytime soon. Instead, the foundation aims to teach practical, modern-day skills, such as computer coding, that can help at-risk and dis-advantaged youth thrive in today’s economy.
The idea is to recruit leaders in the community who can teach and mentor kids. The foundation’s objective is best stated on its website: “Through systematic and institutional change, the Greater movement will break the cycle of at-risk youth and create a new class of global citizens that are built and equipped to grow through their circumstances with personal responsibility to their communities and the world.”
The Greater Foundation launched last fall, and as Okung says, “Now it’s time to get people involved. If you’re trying to figure out a way to get involved, even if it’s not monetary, we want your time. We’re going to get together some of the top technology leaders in the area to come address the issue of diversity and inclusion in the technology sector.”
The Greater Foundation is already working with local non-profits such as the Technology Access Foundation, Seattle Urban Academy, Code Fellows, City Year and Urban Impact to highlight the challenges and promises of technology as a tool for community.
“We see this shift that’s moving toward the innovative economy,” Okung says. “And regardless of background, regardless of your ethnicity or regardless of your socioeconomic status, you deserve to be included.”
JOHN BOYLE, SEAHAWKS WRITER
For additional information: begreater.org