Minnesota Vikings tight end/fullback Rhett Ellison, a St. Francis High graduate, participated as a mentor in the Stanford Youth Impact Program (YIP) July 12.
Ellison, a fourth-round pick of the Vikings last year, served as a guest speaker to emphasize the importance of education and using football as a tool to achieve ultimate success both on and off the field. The Portola Valley native also presented the organization with a personal donation to match the grant given by the NFL.
YIP is a summer program that promotes positive development in low-income, urban-based, at-risk minority middle-school male students between the ages of 10 and 14. The Stanford YIP kicked off July 8 and ran through July 26, hosting more than 100 students and providing 60-plus hours of classroom training and tutoring, field trips and 20 hours of contact football and fitness training. YIP also provides meals and transportation for participants.
“Despite playing college football in Southern California and now professionally in Minnesota, the Bay Area is still my home,” Ellison said. “YIP is a tremendous program that goes far beyond football and teaches life skills and values such as a strong work ethic, discipline and teamwork. To do this locally with an organization that truly supports personal growth, while incorporating the game of football, is a tremendous opportunity. I am grateful to be in a position to give back and share my experiences with these kids.”
A former USC Trojan, Ellison gained mentoring experience with YIP while a student in Los Angeles. He is the son of YIP Chairman and Founder Riki Ellison, a three-time Super Bowl champion with the San Francisco 49ers. He has held the position of chairman since YIP’s inception in 2003.
Through the Heads Up initiative, the NFL and USA Football support the Stanford YIP. The program hired 12 current Stanford football players, five Stanford staff members and four public school teachers. John York, co-chairman of the 49ers, and Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State and Stanford professor, also participated in this summer’s program.