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Brandon Culpepper ’07 Engages Inner-city Youth

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Brandon Culpepper ’07 Engages Inner-city Youth

After Brandon Culpepper ’07 left his position on UMD’s football team and graduated, he went on to play on national football and rugby teams. But that wasn’t enough for Brandon. Channeling his love for team sports, he formed PeppNation Sports Leadership Camps, a group that changes the lives of at-risk children in Milwaukee through athletics.

PeppNation has reached remarkable milestones. Today they serve 200 kids a week, have five locations in Milwaukee, have earned more than $1.3 million in scholarships, and have been able to serve 1,500 kids in the greater Milwaukee area, New York City, and Atlanta. The end goal for PeppNation is to get youth into college.

Brandon says he wants to help “students and student athletes alike who aspire to graduate from college and learn trades.” His PeppNation camps teach teamwork, the value of hard work, and respect for others, all qualities needed for the classroom and the workplace. He hopes his students will be successful and “will go on to lead others in the same manner which they were once led.”

When Brandon started PeppNation in 2010, he was drawn to Milwaukee, Wis., one of the most racially and economically segregated places in America. It was considered one of the worst places for youth in the country. He had grown up there, so he knew how desperately the city needed change. Seeing so much hardship and pain compelled Brandon to help.

By partnering with the Boys and Girls Club of Milwaukee, Brandon and PeppNation established Sports Leadership Camps to engage inner-city youth through sports. The organization now coaches youth athletes, hosts events, and holds fundraisers in the community. The sport of rugby plays a central role.

PeppNation’s rugby tournaments include kids from different backgrounds. Kids from the city are introduced to kids from the suburbs and learn to play with people who looked nothing like them. “We are changing the world right there in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,” Brandon explains.

Brandon had a long journey between his days in UMD’s Labovitz School of Business and Economics and his life once he returned to Milwaukee. After graduation from UMD, he played on the Georgia Mustangs semi-pro football team and the Connecticut Wildcats semi-pro rugby team. That’s where his connection to young people started. As he took the spotlight, young adults reached out to him, asking for his advice. He established a blog and video series that encouraged aspiring youth to follow their passion… and all of that led to PeppNation’s sports camps.

“My own dream… has grown into helping young kids achieve their dreams,” Brandon said. “Imagine what this world will look like if we all help each other, teach each other, and lead one another.”

Story Provided By: UMD Marketing and Public Relations

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