Not long after his arrival to the New York Giants in 2005, Justin Tuck and his wife, Lauran, founded Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy to bring greater educational and career opportunities to youth in the New York City metro-area.
Nearly a decade on, the two continue to share their passion for education — appearing at NJIT for the Junior Achievement Career Success® Workshop College Series to meet with Newark-area high school students and speak with them about the importance of college and career.
Afterward, Justin and Lauran further discussed the inspiration for their visit and work in education throughout Newark, and offered some pro advice for students to succeed.
What inspired your visit to Newark for the 2018 Junior Achievement Career Success® Workshop College Series at NJIT?
Lauran: We have friends that have worked with Junior Achievement in the past and they reached out to see if we would be interested, knowing that we do a lot of work with children and education. Specifically, the point of contact was someone that I serve with on the Board of Education in Fort Lee. Additionally, Justin and I love Newark — some of our mentors are from Newark. We believe that these children will go on to do incredible things and make our world a better place. I’m not sure who to attribute this quote to but, “talent is equally distributed, opportunity is not.” We believe in Junior Achievement’s mission.
It was back in 2008 that Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy was started to improve children’s education in New York, New Jersey and in Alabama, Justin’s home state. How has the foundation grown from then to now?
Lauran: Our charitable organization has evolved quite a bit over the last decade. Our organization initially partnered with All Stars Helping Kids, a 501c3, and we have since converted Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy to a donor-advised fund: The Tuck Family Foundation. We continue to focus our philanthropic efforts on children and education. Tuck’s R.U.S.H. for Literacy has worked with schools in Newark over the years, including BRICK Academy. We no longer run our own independent program, rather, we write grants to fund other nonprofits working to close the opportunity gaps that exist within the education space.
What is the importance of talking to and meeting young students at events like this? Why is it important for you personally?
Justin: The NFL provided me with a powerful platform that I feel blessed to use. “To whom much is given, much is expected.” There is a lot about our world that is frustrating, and I know we can’t fix everything but I will do what I can to make an impact. My parents and my pastor really set that example for me.
What was the most important thing you wanted to communicate to Newark’s high school students?
Justin: The Junior Achievement banner said it best: mentor, inspire, succeed. I am a first-generation college student and I had hard times and there was a lot of sacrifice by a lot of people, myself included, to stand where I am today: as an 11 year NFL vet about to receive my MBA from Wharton.
Finally, are there any lessons or a piece of advice you have taken from your spectacular NFL career that you’d pass on to students today?
Justin: One: There is no substitute for hard work. Two: Let yourself be mentored and don’t be afraid to reach out for advice if you need it. After I was drafted by the Giants, Michael Strahan and other vets mentored me and that was invaluable. As I transition into the world of finance, I have had to be more proactive about asking for help — tutoring, investment opportunities, etc. When people view you as successful, I think sometimes there’s this idea that everything came naturally or that you did everything by yourself but that is not true. I want kids to ask for help and find mentors, good mentors.