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Looking Back On The NBA Foundation’s Inaugural Year And Its Work Empowering Black Communities

It’s truly been a transformative year for the NBA Foundation, and it’s just the beginning.

Since its inception, a North Star for the NBA has been teamwork.

And for nearly as long as its existence, the NBA has been extending its reach beyond basketball and partnering with communities worldwide to truly bring their residents into the spirit of the game.  

In 2020, the NBA took its commitment to the community to the next level. The NBA Foundation was founded in August that year to empower communities – specifically Black youth across the country – and work with them to close the wealth gap and build lasting futures by creating generational wealth, committing $300 million over the next 10 years.

In its first year, the NBA Foundation has already awarded 40 grants to nonprofits in the U.S. and Canada, with funding and resources totaling $11M since it began. The organization committed itself to funding social justice and youth empowerment programs, partnering with national and local community organizations that are really working with the people to build better futures. 

Whether these organizations focus on education, mentorship, career advancement or other workforce development-related topics, the common thread is creating access and economic opportunity for the Black community, starting with the youngest members. 

Take a look at some of the community partnerships built nationwide, with targeted efforts to reach communities where it’s most needed and can do the most good. 

Caption: NBA Foundation Grantee - Road to Hire

Here are some of the grant recipients from the start of Year One: 

exalt is a New York City-based outreach program that’s focusing on helping kids better their lives through educational engagement. Started in 2006, the nonprofit’s primary focus is educational engagement instead of criminal justice intervention. Offering career training, paid internships and 1-to-1 support, exalt fosters a sense of hope in program participants and strives to co-create a future with young people based on encouragement, not punishment. And the numbers of the program’s success bear out: 95% of participants don’t experience recidivism — compared to the state’s 60% average — and 99% of program participants are engaging and progressing in school, just two years after successful completion of the program.

Management Leadership for Tomorrow

Started in 2002, Management Leadership for Tomorrow has a very straightforward philosophy: The American Dream is, in fact, for everyone. Yes, everyone. The American promise has eluded so many communities of color as the wealth gap has only widened over time, and Management Leadership for Tomorrow is aiming to change that. “MLT equips and emboldens high-achieving individuals from underrepresented communities — Black, Latinx and Native American — to realize their full potential, to make a mark and make a difference.” The program focuses on building leadership experiences for people of color, transforming the leadership pipeline so that the racial wealth gap can level out.

City Year
City Year is a national organization that helps students and schools succeed while preparing the next generation of civically engaged leaders who can work across lines of difference. In partnership with local teachers and schools, City Year AmeriCorps members cultivate learning environments where students can build on their strengths and thrive while acquiring valuable skills and experiences that prepare them for career success. City Year has grown from 50 corps members in Boston to more than 3,000 members serving in 29 U.S. cities, as well as in South Africa and the U.K. 

Road to Hire

Road to Hire (R2H) is a Charlotte-based organization that is redefining who’s given the chance to start a life-changing career. It connects under-resourced young adults with onramps to high-earning and in-demand careers through paid training, college access, robust life skills support and mentorship.

The Sphinx Organization

Sphinx Organization transforms lives through the power of diversity in the arts, focused on fulfilling that mission with artist and ensemble development, music education and opportunities to support diverse talent in classical music and the performing arts.

YouthForce NOLA

YouthForce NOLA is an education, business and civic collaborative that builds bridges between school and work through its network of partner schools, employers, training providers and community organizations. Its vision is that New Orleans public school graduates will thrive economically as a result of being the most sought-after talent for hiring and advancement in the region’s high-wage career pathways.

To commemorate its first anniversary in August, the NBA Foundation has already awarded 22 new grants to organizations across the country. “We’re thrilled to celebrate our one-year anniversary by awarding 22 deserving recipients with new grants that will further their efforts and our shared mission to create short- and long-term opportunity for Black young people,” says Greg Taylor, NBA Foundation Executive Director. “The commitment shown by NBA players, teams and governors in our inaugural year has been inspiring, and we look forward to deepening our efforts and operating with intention to reach more youth in additional cities in the years to come.”

Make sure to stay up to date with the latest from the NBA Foundation, and learn more about the community partners who are dedicating themselves to making a true change in their communities. 

This editorial is brought to you in partnership with the NBA. 

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