Our Founder

Joshua Mercer, Founder and President

Joshua Mercer is the Founder and CEO of Swish Dreams Sports & Educational Foundation; he also currently is the owner of The Mercer Insurance Agency (Allstate)  and operates the Conversation (conversationmagazine.net), as well as other  entrepreneurial ventures.

Joshua is a former Chicago Public School teacher of seven years.

After graduating from Howard University (Business; 2003), Mercer began his career working in Chicago’s Englewood Community where he sold financial products. Frustrated by the lack of financial education and high rates of illiteracy, he felt compelled to integrate himself as an educator. After earning his Master’s (Education) from National Louis (2006), Mercer began his new career as teaching youth entrepreneurship. In this role he flourished and received acclaim for leading his students to repeated local and national finishes.

Inspired by his students’ achievements and their Math and Reading deficiencies, Mercer started Swish Dreams. In the summer of 2011, the average Swish Dreams student boosted their literacy scores by 20% and fitness by 17%. To date, Swish Dreams has served 1,000 + students with summer, after school, and weekend programs on the South and West sides of Chicago as well as Indiana.

Joshua currently resides in Chicago with his wife Kenya, where is operates his businesses and stays heavily active with Swish Dreams.

Awards & Accomplishments

  • Graduate of Academy for Urban School Leadership (2006)
  • Master in the Art of Teaching, National-Louis University (2006)
  • Certified Entrepreneurship Instructor – National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (2006)
  • Unofficial Founding of  Swish Dreams Sports & Educational Foundation (2006)
  • Financial Education Investments Instructor for Chicago Urban League (2007 – 2011)
  • A.R.I.S.E. Entrepreneur Program Graduate (2008)
  • Led students to 1st in City (Chicago) and 2nd place finish in NFTE National 08’Business Plan Competition, 25,000 students (2009)
  • Led students to 1st and 2nd place finish in Future Founders Chicago land Entrepreneurial Centers Citywide Youth Business Plan Competition (2009)
  • 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)
  • N’Digo Magazine – Breakthrough 2010 Entrepreneur (2009)
  • Calahan Foundation Groundbreaking Award (2009)
  • Howard University Alumni Club of Chicago – Youth Development Award (2009)
  • Award for Outstanding Leadership in the Field of Business Creativity And Entrepreneurship, Consortium for Entrepreneurship (2009)
  • Swish Dreams attains official 501c(3) Status (2009)
  • Swish Dreams Launches first camp (2010)
  • WGN TV Feature – Someone You Should Know (2010)
  • Awarded Urban Business Round-Table Top 40 Under 40 Award (2010)
  • Me TV (WCIU) – Guest – Chicago School’s Sports Edition (2010)
  • Awarded Diversity MBA Magazine Top 100 Under 50 Leadership Award (2010)
  • Leadership Instructor at Canter Middle School (2010 – 2012)
  • Howard University School of Business’s Young Business Leader Award (2010)
  • Lifetime Member of the Young Professionals of Chicago (2010)
  • Swish Dreams GIRLS Launched (2010)
  • Swish Dreams Cheer/Dance, Math, and Reading Launched (2010)
  • Swish Dreams summer program expands to West Side of Chicago (2011)
  • Swish Dreams launches After School Programs on South and West Sides of Chicago (2011)
  • Featured in Chicago Parent Magazine - Someone You Should Know (2011)
  • Chicago Urban League/Verizon Wireless – Everyday Heroes Award (2011)
  • Founder/Creator of the Conversation
  • Appointed Chicago Urban League Youth Investment Entrepreneur Project Director (2011 – 2012)
  • Awarded Chicago Defender’s 50 Men of Excellence (2012)
  • Swish Dreams launches weekend program (2012)
  • Swish Dreams expands to Gary Indiana (2012)
  • Named Who’s Who in Black Chicago by Real Times Media (2012)
  • Awarded NAACP Community Service Award (2012)
  • Emerging Leader Award by Link Unlimited (2012)
  • Named to the Chicago Defender’s Top 40 Under 40 (2012)
  • Appointed Senior Program Manager of Chicago Urban League’s Education Department (2012)
  • Swish Dreams Summer program launches 5 new locations