When Rob Murphy isn't coaching his Eastern Michigan men's basketball team, he is giving back to the school and community that helped form him.
Murphy, a Detroit native, created the Rob Murphy Foundation in 2014 and his hope is to help kids in underserved areas.
“We started the foundation with the goal in mind to help the underprivileged youths in Detroit,” Murphy said. “Bagley Elementary is where we started the pilot program.”
Bagley Elementary is located northwest of Detroit and had 348 students in the 2014-15 school year according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Of those, 294 students qualified for a free lunch. According to the Michigan Department of Education, to qualify for a free lunch a family of four’s income must be under $31,005 annually.
“I attended Bagley as an elementary kid and then my first teaching job was at Bagley. When I graduated from college the principal gave me my first opportunity to become a teacher in the Detroit Public School system,” Murphy said. “The foundation was always a vision of mine. Growing up in Detroit, throughout my life, I had ups and downs and different struggles because of my life situation.”
The foundation helps the school fill a variety of needs.
“[We] help them on the academic side, whether it was technology needs with iPads,” Murphy said. “[The foundation also helps] with arts and crafts because they don’t have an art teacher, physical education and health needs because they don’t have a gym teacher.”
Murphy has held events, such as the “Gift of Sharing”, in which Murphy and volunteers packed boxes filled with holiday cards and food and passed them out to 45 families within the Bagley community. They also passed out 25 boxes to neighborhood senior citizens that had been identified as needing additional assistance.
Murphy uses the foundation to teach his student-athletes to appreciate the opportunities that they have received.
“I tell these guys that we’re blessed to be here,” Murphy said. “You’re truly fortunate because you have several people that grow up with the dreams that we see right now and they never get the opportunity to finish high school or go to college. I preach to our guys to take advantage of the opportunity you have because before you know it, it will be over.”
Bilal Saeed is the owner of Pakmode Media and Marketing which provides the marketing for “The Rob Murphy Foundation”.
“To see coach interact with the youth at his old elementary is amazing,” Saeed said. “To see where he came from makes me understand so much about him as a person and why he knows that the work his foundation is doing is necessary for the kids of Detroit and Ypsilanti.”
Murphy said the foundation is possible in part to the contributions from donors.
“I’m really fortunate to have a few private donors that have donated a substantial amount of money to help make this happen.
Murphy spent eight years as Jim Boeheim’s assistant at the University of Syracuse. Boeheim has a charity foundation that he runs with his wife, the “Jim and Juli Boeheim Foundation”, with the goal to help kids in the central New York community as well as eliminating cancer through research and advocacy. Murphy credits Boeheim with how to run a foundation.
“I watched him and how he gave back as well,” Murphy said about Boeheim.
Murphy wanted to give back in a similar way.
“For me personally, I never forgot where I came from and the struggles I had as an underprivileged kid at the time,” Murphy said. “If I can just go back and touch somebody's life to make them better, whether it's now or help them understand the big picture in the future, that's what it's really all about.”
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