This month, the Restoration Project Foundation Spotlight is on Faith Athletics & Music Charter Institute (FAMCI), a comprehensive academic, athletic, and music mentoring organization. Headquartered in Charleston, SC, FAMCI is thriving under the leadership of Mr. Urie Smalls. “Faith Athletics & Music Charter Institute serves as a great model for how to combine a structured online academic program with sports, musical instruction, and real-world electives to provide a well-rounded mentoring experience for students,” said RPF CEO Craig Wooten. “We’re proud to support their great work in Charleston and are excited to see what the future holds as FAMCI continues to grow.”
Executive Director Urie Smalls has always had a passion for working with young people in sports. He regularly coached athletes during his previous career in law enforcement and continues to do so with Faith Athletics & Music Charter Institute. “I want to help young athletes achieve some goals that I wasn’t able to achieve,” he explained. “I’ve been doing it for quite some time, and I do it as a passion.” Like many mentoring programs, FAMCI began as an athletic program focused on helping young people stay clear of the streets and has grown rapidly to include academics, music, a variety of mentoring electives, and community service activities.
After witnessing his student-athletes struggle with online learning during COVID, Urie made the decision to partner with The South Carolina Preparatory Academy (SC Prep), a free online classical public charter school serving students in middle and high school across South Carolina. This partnership allows FAMCI to provide a unique combination of personalized virtual academics and daily mentoring that is particularly effective in helping mentees achieve academic success and be better prepared for college and life after high school graduation. FAMCI students gather together in person on Tuesday-Thursday to attend SC Prep classes in the morning, then shift to a mentoring elective, such as music, journalism, or TV broadcasting, during the second half of the day. Monday and Friday's classes take place at home to allow for family bonding time. “The kids are having a great time, and this approach gives them the chance to learn how to responsibly exercise academic freedom in a structured environment,” explained Mr. Smalls. “They leave school each day being able to say ‘I did my part, I feel good about what I did in the classroom when I come back tomorrow, I know what I’m going to do. If I have questions I can email my teachers or talk to my learning coach,’ which is exactly what they need to learn to be well prepped for college.”
Accompanied by Mr. Buzz, FAMCI’s Golden Hornet Mascot, Urie does a great deal of community outreach in Charleston schools to reach the greatest number of students. Fourth and Fifth Graders at Sanders Clyde Creative Arts Elementary School and Julian Mitchell Elementary School are already excited to join the program in sixth grade, while many high school students have joined FAMCI’s after-school Navigate Program for Student Athletes. Navigate prepares students for participation in college athletics, facilitates college tours, and ensures that necessary courses are completed and GPAs maintained. “We want the kids to feel good about themselves and constantly encourage them to reach for greatness,” explained Urie. “These kids have so much talent, and we would love to see them play for USC or Clemson and know that we had a hand in working with that young man or young lady and now they are doing great things in life.”
Interested in supporting Faith Athletics & Music Charter Institute? Volunteers are very welcome, particularly those interested in coaching, teaching a mentoring elective or music class, or chaperoning college visits. Donations of classroom items, sporting equipment, and snacks are hugely helpful, as are donations provided to help underwrite all FAMCI programs. To learn more about how you can get involved, visit https://faithamcharter.wixsite.com/gohornets/home. To connect with another mentor partner site near you, please fill out the contact form at https://www.restorationprojectfoundation.org/contact.