The new Starting Block: A Fielkow-Chase Youth Education Initiative is designed to build impactful relationships between multicultural and multifaith communities in Greater New Orleans. Through practical learning and career skills building, this program will service high school students interested in pursuing professions within the sports industry, while at the same time allowing the participating teens to learn about one another’s history, traditions, and culture. This exciting initiative will launch in October 2021, and applications are being accepted right now and set to close on August 1, 2021.
This innovative program was jointly created by the Arnie D. Fielkow Family and the Edgar “Dooky” Jr. & Leah Chase Family Foundation. Both names are well-known among New Orleanians, and their collaboration combines the primary passions of each family as seen through their years of philanthropic service. This program is a definitive nod to Arnie Fielkow’s nearly 30-year professional career of sports, Judaism, and fostering relationship building among the diverse subsets of diverse communities. The iconic Leah Chase also devoted her entire life to social justice, education, and utilizing her unprecedented life and culinary talents to bring diverse New Orleanians together.
“I have been blessed to have enjoyed an almost 30-year career in the sports industry which allowed me to fulfill a life’s dream,” says Arnie Fielkow. “Through The Starting Block, it is my hope to give other New Orleans area youth the same opportunity and the foundation to live out their own professional dreams. Even more importantly, given the current state of society, it is vital that communities-especially the African-American, Latino and Jewish communities-unite to better understand each other’s history and traditions, and to stand together to combat bigotry, hate and discrimination. Hopefully The Starting Block will bring New Orleans area youth together to accomplish just that!”
“This foundation was created in remembrance and celebration of Leah Chase and her lifetime commitment to social equity and positive change,” says Edgar “Dooky” Chase III of the Edgar “Dooky” Jr. & Leah Chase Family Foundation. “By offering students in a majority minority city a program of this caliber, we are leveling the playing field by lowering barriers to positions of influence within the sports industry. We want to expand the range of qualifiers for a young person to have a career in sports far past just their physical ability. This is definitely something Leah would have loved to see.”
The Starting Block will announce its inaugural cohort in August 2021 with an initial class of 30 high school students (those eligible are all public and private school students entering 9th – 11th grade in the Fall of 2021) reflecting the Greater New Orleans African American, Latino, and Jewish communities. Each class will complete an 18-month education cycle featuring the ins and outs of the sports industry, with the goal of preparing them for a professional career in the field after college. The program curriculum will also highlight African American and Latino history and challenges, as well as Jewish history and tradition. During the summer of 2022, students will gain hands-on experience through job shadowing at sports-related organizations throughout the Greater New Orleans area.
This will be a hybrid program that features in-person classes and virtual enrichment opportunities. In-person classes will be held every two months, rotating between Tulane University, St. Augustine High School, Touro Synagogue, the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, and other local venues.
The Center for Sport at Tulane University, under the direction of Dr. Gabe Feldman, will serve as The Starting Block’s primary educational partner, and will be responsible for creating the 18-month curriculum and scheduling of classes. In addition, St. Augustine High School, Touro Synagogue, the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, ADL, and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Louisiana will assist Tulane with the creation of historical and religious education modules. This initiative is made possible through the generosity of the Chase Family, the Fielkow Family, and the Melinda and Morris Mintz Family. Additional partners include the Major League Baseball New Orleans Youth Academy and Each One Save One.
An informational session via Zoom will be held on June 24 at 6:00 p.m. To RSVP, and for the link, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on this program, and to download the application packet, please visit The Starting Block website at www.thestartingblocknola.com.