1994 : The Kids in Las Vegas

Jun 7, 2023, 12:30:00 PM

Andre Agassi supports youngsters from his home city

At the age of 24, Andre Agassi had already won two Davis Cups, one Masters Final title, Wimbledon and the US Open. And it was not even what he was the proudest of. In 1994, as he was watching CBS’ 60 Minutes, he saw a piece on Las Vegas kids who did not have access to education. “It was unbelievable to me,” he wrote in Open, the autobiography he released in 2009.

So, he launched the Andre Agassi Foundation for Education to give access to free and high standard public schools to underprivileged children. Since then, even after he retired in 2006, Agassi has built as many schools as possible. In 2011, he paid $40M from his personal earnings to build a school in the poorest area of Las Vegas; the building is also a shelter for children who have been abused or neglected by their parents. “We had 1,200 children the first year, from preschool to secondary school; 3,000 more were on a waiting list,” he said at the 2019 Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. “I started thinking that there were much more children in need than the ones I was already helping. It was a double acknowledgement of failure!” In June 2011, Agassi sealed a deal with real estate firm Turner Impact Capitol; since then, the Turner-Agassi Charter School Facilities Fund has promoted the development of free public schools in all US urban areas. The foundation website states that it has sent 59,893 children to 124 ‘Turner-Agassi’ schools, 74% of which have a better success rate at the national exams than the other schools in their districts.

“When my first tennis victories came, I realized I had to give back part of all the love and energy I had been given,” he said in Le Temps in 2013. “It was not about simply donating to charity. […] Our aid is much deeper and more rewarding than a victory on a tennis court. It makes us feel complete.” Agassi sees himself as a ‘facilitator’ rather than an educator; his duty is “not to choose where we are going, but the people we are going with.” In Penta, he said he had raised about $185M through charity. “I think education is the only way to change the system so that we can provide youngsters with the right tools to get ahead rather than sticking plasters on their issues.” There is more: a long-standing ambassador for Swiss watchmaker Longines, Agassi has found a way to make this partnership useful. Longines raises funds for the foundation and sends professional watchmakers to the Turner-Agassi schools so they can train the children. Still, Andre Agassi is more into necklaces than watches. His favourite one is the one made by his son Jaden Gil when he was 4. He’s been wearing it for about 18 years. There is ‘Daddy Rocks’ written on it.