Embark with Beat the Streets
This month, the first cohort of Embark Fellows are launching crowdfunding campaigns to support their ventures before working on them full-time after graduation. We'll be interviewing them on Swearer Sparks during the campaigns to spread the word about their inspiring ventures.
Meet Billy Watterson '15, founder of Beat the Streets Providence. To learn more about Beat the Streets, check out their campaign and video on Indiegogo until May 8th.
Q: What is your venture and how did you start working on it?
Billy: Beat the Streets is a non-profit that creates scholastic wrestling teams to inspire and support urban youth in Providence. I started Beat the Streets Providence in 2013 when I found out that there were no after-school sports in Providence Middle Schools. When I was in middle school, the best mentors I had were my wrestling coaches, and I wanted to bring that same life changing experience to Providence Middle School students.
Q: What do you feel is the most important component for the success your program?
Billy: Hands down, our coaches and the relationships that they develop with students. It's more than providing academic support or attendance incentives - having coaches who believe in our students is the biggest game changer.
Q: What is critically important about the issue you are working on for others to understand?
Billy: We're not a sports program. Beat the Streets is, first and foremost, an education program. We use wrestling as a way to give at-risk students a positive after school environment where they have strong mentors, academic support, and most importantly, motivation to stay in school.
Q: What are you most excited about for your time in the Embark Fellowship?
Billy: Because I was finishing my own wrestling career this year, I had practice at the same time as the Beat the Streets practice, and I was hardly ever able to see our program in action. Next year, I plan to be coaching every day at our programs. That's the best part, because I love working with the kids and seeing them grow.
Q: What's one surprising fact people might not know about you?
Billy: I love to write! In my spare time I write fiction, and I do journalistic writing on the side.