On March 28th, Above and Beyond the Playground held its Inaugural Gala in
appreciation of its supporters. Over 60 guests came to the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel to
learn more about the organization’s message: our youth deserve to know they can strive
for excellence, no matter their situation. In particular, the night highlighted Above and
Beyond the Playground’s new campaign, #DoMoreKnowMore, which teaches student
athletes to take an active approach in their own success.
“Young people need the chance to succeed,” says founder Deonte Tatum. “They
need to know they can overcome challenges and obstacles. They need to know they
can hope for the best; that they can change their circumstances.”
Mr. Tatum knows firsthand about these possibilities, and he wants to get the
message out. In many ways Above and Beyond the Playground is the result of his own
personal experiences growing up in Milwaukee, and the impact the right people can
have on a young life.
Evidence of this impact could be found in the gala’s attendees and speakers. The
event was presided over by Mr. Rick Polk, who along with his wife Laura, took Deonte
into their home for his last two years at Vincent High School.
Mr. Polk introduced Joe Klein and Anthony Jacobs as speakers. Each of them
touched Deonte Tatum’s life in ways that still affect him today. Klein played AAU
basketball with Deonte for four years. Jacobs worked at Vincent High School, and was
an important mentor while Deonte was a student there. They each helped Deonte found
Above and Beyond the Playground in 2015. When it was Mr. Tatum’s turn to talk, he
made sure to recognize many of the other people who positively impacted his life.
People like Gloria Erkins — who was his high school principle, and Dennis Klein — his
AAU basketball coach who he remains friends with to this day.
Guests were also treated to guest speaker Jacoby Franklin. Young Mr. Franklin is
one of the many successes of Above and Beyond the Playground. Jacoby currently
plays three sports, works a job, and is narrowing down his options for college. Young
people like Jacoby have helped make Above and Beyond the Playground be a
continuously growing success. Deonte Tatum started the program with just 15 students
and three volunteers. This past year 90 students came through the program, and over
30 student athletes are in college today thanks in no small part to Above and Beyond
Above and Beyond The Playground has earned enough attention for its success that
Milwaukee Chief of Police Alfonso Morales and Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas
were among those who attended the gala to show their support.
Other supporters of Above and Beyond the Playground include the Milwaukee
Bucks, who donated a signed Malcolm Brogdon jersey for a silent auction, and Nas
Laine, a Milwaukee entrepreneur and founder of NL Suits. Laine sold one of his custom
suits in a live auction, and will continue to be a supporter of Above and Beyond the
All proceeds from the silent and live auction will help fund the continued mentorship
of Above and Beyond the Playground.
If you believe the young students of Milwaukee deserve a guiding hand, you too can
be a supporter of Above and Beyond the Playground. We are always looking for
entrepreneurs, coaches, and other caring people from our community to provide
mentorship for the next generation.