Growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, in the 1960s and ’70s, Odell Cleveland leveraged his basketball skills to land a college scholarship. The 6-foot-3 Cleveland would go on to earn a place in the University of South Carolina Upstate’s Athletics Hall of Fame.
“I’m one of those individuals who came from just a poor, poor background, and because at the time I was able to play sports in America, I was able to go to college, get an education. I saw that education itself helped turn my life around,” said Cleveland, now a senior pastor and chief administrative officer at the 4,000-member Mount Zion Baptist Church in Greensboro, North Carolina.
In addition to his church role, Cleveland chairs the advisory board for the college completion initiative Degrees Matter!, which receives funding from the Lumina Foundation, an Indiana-based nonprofit that tries to get more students enrolled in college.
He’s not the only one who thinks that houses of worship can partner with local postsecondary schools to preach the importance of higher education.
Read more of my article “In faith-based communities, college completion may be uniquely emphasized” in Deseret News.