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Vincent Grad Shares His Journey to Higher Education

Isiah Bogan says he originally became involved with Above and Beyond the Playground so he could get in an extra workout and eat. He heard about the program because Coach James Wright encouraged Isiah and his team mates to participate because his female athletes were in the program. At the time (2015-16) the program was offered in the summer and since Isiah was there a few hours early for football practice anyway, he signed up.

“As I kept coming during the school year I started to get serious about school. Mr. Tatum showed me that life is not all about sports. You will need an education so you'll have more opportunity in life. As the program went on he had a lot of people coming out to help us with our homework.  And before we were done we used to get a little work out in too,” Isiah says.

ABP and Northbrook Church volunteer Dennis Backhaus was and still is a mentor to Isiah. Isiah and Mr. Backhaus spent many evenings discussing issues related to race.

“Dennis Backhaus have been very supportive. I really was surprised when a person like that was helping out a city kid. He was giving me a lot of advice, saying that anything is possible. ‘It's going be hard but it's possible.’ Dennis was also my tutor during the program. And we had a lot of conversation about race in America. I told him to look a video called the hidden colors on YouTube. And he felt like I gave him an assignment. That’s when he gave me a book that was written about Steve Harvey,” Isiah shares. 

Isiah began to think about starting a clothing business while in school. He was discouraged that athletic clothing stores existed in the suburbs, but very few options were available in the inner city. He decided he could address the unfairness of the situation by starting his own sports brand to give inner city youth a chance to purchase athletic clothing that is reasonably priced.

“Now my clothing line is call Enhance. It took awhile, two weeks, to come up with the name and logo. The way I had time to do all this was just to make sure that I had all my homework in before I did anything else,” he shares.

Isiah is going to be a sophomore in the fall. He started out at DuPage College in Wheaton, IL and transferred to Iowa Central College to play rugby in his second semester as a freshman. He finished the year with a 3.0. Isiah is looking forward to going back to school in the fall and working on growing his business.

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