CONCORD, N.C. — In his two years as football coach at First Assembly Christian School in Concord after retiring in 2007 from the Carolina Panthers, Mike Minter was distressed by the attitude he saw in kids.
“What I saw were so many kids not believing in their dreams,” he says. “They were kind of floating around, no direction, going wherever the wind was blowing, with no sense of urgency or passion.”
His response was Minter Community, a nonprofit he founded to help kids “use their passion and their dreams to create excellence in their life,” Minter says.
Minter, who heads Mike Minter Enterprises, uses his own story to help inspire kids.
Raised in the military town of Lawton, Okla., Minter says, he benefited from support and encouragement from his mother, a single mom who worked as a beautician, from his uncles, and from the Boys & Girls Clubs, where as a third-grader he played football for the first time.
That was when he started telling people he was going to play football for the University of Nebraska, a perennial national power, which soon led to his dream to play in the Super Bowl.
He played for Nebraska when it won the national championships in 1994 and 1995, and for the Panthers in the 2003 Super Bowl.
“My mom and my uncles were always pushing me,” he says. “They would take what I was passionate about, and through that they would then teach me the things that would make me successful in life, like hard work, being good in school, not getting in trouble, hanging out with the right people.”
Minter Community, which expects to operate with a budget of roughly $500,000 this year, will receive about half its funds from Minter and his group of Concord-based companies.
Operating under the umbrella of Minter Enterprises, those companies include Minter Communications, which focuses on his speaking engagements; Minter Consulting, which provides business-support services; and Minter Contractors, which develops residential communities in the Charlotte area and Oklahoma, including the Pine Creek gated community in Kannapolis.
Minter also owns A&R Materials, a liquid-asphalt company that sells its product to paving companies.
Run by a core of 20 volunteers, including a president and people who head committees in the areas of fundraising, public relations, marketing, finance and athletics, Minter Community has developed programs based on the belief that kids need to focus on academics, attitude and activity, including athletics, to become a complete person, Minter says.
Minter Community, which has raised $25,000 this year, mainly from local companies like Wachovia, a Wells Fargo company, generates part of its revenue from basketball, baseball and football camps it sponsors in the summer.
It uses those funds to contract with Academic Achievers, a subsidiary of Charlotte-based S&L Consultants that runs programs for kids ages seven to 18 that focus on tutoring, career readiness, activities and life skills.
The consulting firm, in turn, hires teachers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to teach the programs in their off hours.
Nan Gray, president of Minter Community and account executive at South Park Magazine, says the nonprofit, also aims through summer camps and partnerships with public schools, starting in Gaston County, to work on academics and athletics with at-risk kids.
“We want to reach those at-risk children,” she says, “both here and as far as Minter Community can reach.”