Since its founding in August 2020, the NBA Foundation’s primary objective has been to promote economic opportunity for the Black community.
However, this is not merely a mission statement. The foundation has remained true to its principles for the past three years by partnering with organizations that empower Black youth to realize their dreams and attain their full potential.
“The summer of 2020 was a turbulent time, and I believe the NBA asked itself, ‘What role are we to play in this historical moment?'” said Greg Taylor, Executive Director of the NBA Foundation. “The communities we care about looked to the league for leadership, and it was an opportunity to continue our legacy as social justice and civil rights leaders; thus, the NBA Foundation was established.”
In celebration of its third anniversary, the foundation has awarded 40 new and renewed grants totaling $13.5 million. The grantees will receive funding and resources to bolster initiatives addressing disparities in education, income, and employment in underserved communities.
MobilizeGreen, an organization whose mission is to create employment opportunities for young, diverse individuals pursuing careers in green STEM, is one of the 23 grantees whose partnership with the foundation has been renewed. MobilizeGreen has utilized the funding from the foundation to expand its Virtual Intern program.
Founder and CEO of MobilizeGreen, Leah Allen, stated that during the pandemic, companies and agencies were discontinuing their internship programs, disproportionately affecting Black youth. “There is such a disparity in experience. It almost requires knowledge to gain experience, so we wanted to connect Black youth with opportunities.
Allen left a career in law and government relations in 2013 to found MobilizeGreen to diversify employee pipelines to include young people of color.
“I went to work and began considering how to ensure that children of color had access to the upcoming opportunities,” Allen said. I knew I could provide them with those opportunities, so I did.
With the assistance of the foundation’s resources, some organizations, including MobilizeGreen, have reached impressive benchmarks. Nevertheless, for some renewed grantees, such as StreetCode Academy, the best may be yet to come.
StreetCode’s mission is to connect communities of color with innovation opportunities in the tech industry. The CEO of StreetCode, Olatunde Sobomehin, was ecstatic when he explained how the foundation’s resources will support StreetCode’s Who’s Next Tour — a tech-based tour that will provide communities of color in 10 cities with the opportunity to learn about and create with virtual reality, generative artificial intelligence, and augmented reality.
“The NBA has permitted us to partner with other teams as we travel,” said Sobomehin. “The money is great, but you couldn’t do that if you weren’t the NBA, and that’s allowing us to expand more rapidly and effectively.”
StreetCode’s partnership with NBA teams will lend credibility to the Who’s Next Tour and its offerings, and it aligns with Sobomehin’s primary objective of connecting young people of color with technology.
“We’re interested in culture meeting technology, and in our community, the NBA is synonymous with culture,” said Sobomehin. “It fuels the dialogue. It fuels our passions. It propels culture. “It’s a dream to partner with the NBA and introduce technology.”
The foundation’s grantees all have the same overarching objective of promoting employment opportunities. The National Education Equity Lab works toward this goal by partnering with top colleges and universities to provide college credit-bearing courses and support to historically marginalized high school students on a large scale at no cost to the students.
Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Ed Equity Lab, Vivian Zelter, stated, “We came up with the idea to connect top universities with school districts in historically underserved communities to help close the education opportunity gap.” “Our motto is that talent is evenly distributed, but opportunity is not, and with NBA Foundation funding, we intend to change this.”
Since its inception in 2019, Ed Equity Lab has made significant strides in preparing high school students for success on a large scale, and the results speak for themselves: 15,000 students have been served to date, with more than 80% college course pass rates and transferable credits obtained. As a result, students will incur less college debt, receive more scholarship funds, and have more opportunities for success, as they will have the confidence to attend college and the credentials to establish their talents.
“Our preliminary results are encouraging; students are aiming higher and excelling. Leslie Cornfeld, the founder and chief executive officer of Ed Equity Lab, stated that the network’s pupils are more likely to attend four-year colleges and universities outside of their home state.
To promote economic mobility, our mission is to assist students in succeeding at the best institution for them.
Partnering with the NBA Foundation was a no-brainer for both Cornfeld and Zelter, as they are closely aligned on numerous initiatives, including promoting HBCUs.
The foundation oversees the NBA HBCU Fellowship Program, which welcomed its class of 2023 in May. Ed Equity Lab collaborates with several prestigious HBCUs, including Howard, Spelman, and Morehouse, to provide high school students with potent college course experiences.
“When we surveyed scholars, we discovered that over fifty percent of students surveyed did not know what an HBCU was, but this is rapidly changing due to our model,” said Zelter. The NBA grant will allow us to showcase the strength of HBCUs to scholars nationwide.
As the NBA Foundation enters its third year, Taylor expressed a desire to continue assisting organizations in need while establishing new objectives.
Taylor stated, “We want to move toward formalizing partnerships with companies that can employ the young people who have spent time in school or with these nonprofits developing their skills.” “I believe this will be the focus of future years, and we intend to implement it this year.”
To apply for a grant or learn more about the NBA Foundation, please visit www.nbafoundation.com or follow @NBAFoundation.