Joshua Mercer is the Founder and Executive Director of Swish Dreams.
After graduating from Howard University with a Bachelor’s in Business Administration (2003), Joshua began his career working in Chicago’s Englewood Community where he sold financial products. Joshua quickly found out that Englewood was home to over 700 murders in the past ten years with 43% of residents below the poverty line and 60% without checking accounts. Frustrated by the communities’ lack of financial education, high rates of illiteracy, and violence stricken neighborhoods, he felt compelled to integrate himself through volunteerism with the local youth.
Soon Joshua realized that community service was his calling and took advantage of an opportunity with the Academy for Urban School Leadership where he was able to earn his Master’s degree in Education from National-Louis University (2006). While in graduate school, Joshua noticed that high volumes of his students were deficient in the areas of Math and Reading, but loved to compete in Sports; it is here where the idea of Swish Dreams was born! Swish Dreams seeks to expose children to a "Swish Education," which provides academic, social, and physical enrichment to youth, while integrating the disciplines of Language Arts and Mathematics.
To date, Swish Dreams has served over 200 students and has been blessed to have forged relationships with great organizations such the Chicago Bulls (NBA) and the Chicago Sky (WNBA). While running Swish Dreams, Joshua also teaches entrepreneurship at ACE Technical Charter High School, the Beloved Community (After School Matters), and the Chicago Urban League. Joshua’s crowing accomplishment came 2008 when he lead his class to a first place finish in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s National Youth Business Plan Competition in New York City out of 25,000 students. That same year Joshua also won 1st and 2nd Place in the Chicago Urban League’s and the Chicagoland Entrepreneurial Center’s Youth Business Plan Competition.
Awards & Accomplishments: Bachelor of Business Administration, Howard University (2003); Member of Phi Sigma Pi National Honor Fraternity; National Honor Society; Master in the Art of Teaching, National-Louis University (2006); Founded Swish Dreams Sports & Educational Foundation; Head Fro/Soph Basketball Coach, ACE Tech Charter High School (2006 – 2007); Led students to 1st in City (Chicago) and 2nd place finish in NFTE National 08’ Business Plan Competition; 25,000 students); Led students to 1st and 2nd place finish in Future Founders Chicago land Entrepreneurial Centers Citywide Youth Business Plan Competition; Nominated for Teacher of the Year (NFTE, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, 2008 – 09’); Led students to 1st and 2nd Place finish in Chicago Urban League’s Youth Investments & Entrepreneurship Program (8 Schools; 2009); National Entrepreneurship Leadership Award – Consortium for Entrepreneurship Education (2009); N’Digo Magazine – Breakthrough 2010 Entrepreneur (2009); Calahan Foundation Groundbreaking Award (2009); Howard University Alumni Club of Chicago – Youth Development Award (2009); National Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Field of Business Creativity And Entrepreneurship, Consortium for Entrepreneurship (2009), Featured in Ten9eight, the Movie (2009); Executive Director of Swish Dreams (2006 – Present); Financial Education Instructor for Chicago Urban League (2007 – Present); Entrepreneurship Instructor for Beloved Community (2009 - Present); National Association of Black Sports Professionals Panelist (2010); Saint Xavier University Black History Business Panelist (2010); Guest Speaker for Alderman Sandi Jackson’s Youth Violence Summit (2010); Moderator of the Metrobaord’s Empowerment Conference, Chicago Urban League (2010); Guest on WVON 1690 AM “the Lizzy Show”; Guest on Vocalo Radio 98.5 FM; Co-Host for Alderman Sandi Jackson’s Digital Divide Campaign