Former Colts Left Tackle Glenn Keeping the Dreams of Indianapolis Youth Alive
INDIANAPOLIS - Tarik Glenn didn't plan for this originally.
Early in his 10-year career with the Colts, the three-time Pro Bowl left tackle figured his time in Indianapolis would end at the same time his playing career ended.
That was the plan. Then life happened.
Now, less than a year after retiring from the NFL, Glenn - the Colts' starting left tackle from 1998-2006 – is done with football, but he's far from done with his adopted hometown.
Actually, Glenn said, his relationship with Indianapolis is just getting started.
"I thought I'd move back to California once I was done playing football and do this in Oakland," Glenn said this week at an awareness-raising event for D.R.E.A.M. Alive, Inc., a public not-for-profit organization Glenn and his wife, Maya, started in 2001.
"As you get older and mature, you start developing relationships as an adult. This community adopted me. A lot of people know who I am, not just because I played the game, but they know how much I've invested into making sure this community reaches high expectations."
Since his retirement, Glenn said D.R.E.A.M. Alive has undergone a transformation of sorts. Originally designed to create community centers in needy areas, the organization refocused when Glenn and the group began working with Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Eugene White.
"It evolved, because what we've been doing is not just trying to do what we thought the community needed," Glenn said. "We actually went to the community, sat down with Doctor White and asked, 'What are some of the social uses that some of your students and families face?'''
Glenn said the organization has since moved toward more of a community-outreach concept, with the focus on assisting specific schools.
"We feel like we can get more of an effect on the campus, reaching the kids," Glenn said.
D.R.E.A.M. Alive has been a Shortridge Middle School Community Partner the past four years, recently expanding to Arlington Community High School and John Marshall Community High School. Glenn said White would like D.R.E.A.M. Alive to be in four schools soon.
The essential vision of D.R.E.A.M. Alive is:
• To assist each partner school to enhance, educate and empower its students towards success.
• To provide programming that is intentional in helping scholars change the culture of their school to one of continual achievement among all students.
• To create a supsystem for scholars whereby they are continually motivated, encouraged and challenged to be their best in all environments.
• To support the vision of each principal where programs are located.
"Our goal is still to build community centers, but we want to do it strategically," Glenn said. "We want the community to know who we are and embrace our ideas.
"It's amazing we partnered up with IPS. As soon as I got with Dr. White, he continually says, 'I believe one day there are going to be different cities come to Indiana to see D.R.E.A.M. Alive and try to model after it.'''
Making D.R.E.A.M. Alive a permanent part of Indianapolis was his original plan, which Glenn said was why the organization was structured as a not-for-profit rather than as a foundation.
"That was a statement we made from the beginning, because we wanted D.R.E.A.M. Alive to stay in Indianapolis," Glenn said. "We got a board formed of individuals who are Indianapolis natives, who love this city, who want to see this city become better. If Tarik and Maya Glenn actually decided to get up and leave and move to wherever, the community owns this organization.
"We don't own it. I've been the face of this organization and have raised money and donated money to the organization and the causes of this organization, but the organization belongs to the community. That's the way we want to keep it."
The permanency of D.R.E.A.M. Alive, and its long-term presence in the community, is one of the aspects of the organization about which Glenn said he is most proud.
"I just really feel this wasn't about my image," Glenn said. "This wasn't about doing a feel-good thing. This was about having the Indianapolis community actually supporting me when I got here as a football player. There was a lot of community support that went along with that. This is my way of saying, 'I want to make sure I invest back into this community.' . . .
"There are a lot of people who love hearing that message of hope and they jump on board with a lot of the things we're doing."
And just as Glenn didn't originally plan to be a long-term part of the fabric of Indianapolis, he said he didn't anticipate being quite so involved with D.R.E.A.M. Alive in the past year.
Then life happened.
"I didn't know I was going to be so passionate about what I'm doing now," Glenn said. "Obviously, what I wanted to do on the football field it wasn't like it had been in the past. That was one of the reasons I stepped away, but just being so passionate about developing relationships, partnering with existing organizations that are already doing great things, finding more about how this community works and who the mainstays of this community really are, how many people really want to see the community change . . . it has just been exciting.
"It has given me the energy to really continue to pursue the vision we had for this organization."