Foundation will focus on economic empowerment in Black community, partner with HBCUs
By Dorothy J. Gentry
Over a month ago, the NBA prepared to head to their season restart in the Orlando Bubble. At that time, Rick Carlisle, president of the NBA Coaches Association, promised that the organization would “take on the long fight against racial inequality” and ensure conversations around racial injustice and Black Lives Matters would not end.
“This platform in Orlando is going to be a great opportunity for us to talk about the history of racial injustice. We plan to revisit it on a daily basis,” said Carlisle, who is also head coach of the Dallas Mavericks. “This is a long-term initiative that we are getting into. We have a high level of motivation and are looking forward to Orlando being a real jump start.”
Efforts in Orlando spearheaded by the NBA Coaches for Racial Justice Committee, as well as NBA players, include speaking out during pre-game media sessions on racial injustices, reading passages from the Equal Justice Initiative calendar, players wearing different social messages on the backs of their game jerseys and the painting of Black Lives Matters on all the game courts.
But perhaps the biggest indicator of their real commitment to helping racial equality in America is the announcement they made earlier this week.
The NBA Board of Governors announced it will contribute $300 million in initial funding to establish the first-ever NBA Foundation dedicated to creating greater economic empowerment in the Black community, including a specific partnership with HBCU’s. The Foundation is being launched in partnership with the National Basketball Players Association, the union representing the NBA players.
“The creation of this foundation is an important step in developing more opportunities for the Black community,” said NBPA President Chris Paul of the Oklahoma City Thunder. “I am proud of our league and our players for their commitment to this long-term fight for equality and justice, and I know we will continue to find ways to keep pushing for meaningful institutional change.”
Over the next 10 years, the 30 NBA team owners will collectively contribute $30 million annually to establish a new, leaguewide charitable foundation. The NBA Foundation has as its mission to drive economic empowerment for Black communities through employment and career advancement.
It will also work to increase access and support for high school, college-aged and career-ready Black men and women, and assist national and local organizations that provide skills training, mentorship, coaching and pipeline development in NBA markets and communities across the United States and Canada. As a public charity, the Foundation will also aim to work strategically with marketing and media partners to develop additional programming and funding sources that deepen the NBA family’s commitment to racial equality and social justice.
“We are dedicated to using the collective resources of the 30 teams, the players and the league to drive meaningful economic opportunities for Black Americans,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “We believe that through focused programs in our team markets and nationally, together with clear and specific performance measures, we can advance our shared goals of creating substantial economic mobility within the Black community.”
The Foundation will focus on three critical employment transition points:
- obtaining a first job
- securing employment following high school or college
- and career advancement once employed
Through contributions, the NBA Foundation will enhance and grow the work of national and local organizations dedicated to education and employment, including through investment in youth employment and internship programs, STEM fields, job shadows and apprenticeships, development pathways outside of traditional higher education, career placement, professional mentorship, networking and specific partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
The Foundation will work directly with all 30 teams, their affiliated charitable organizations and the NBPA to support national organizations and their local affiliates as well as local grassroots organizations to facilitate sustainable programming and create change in team markets.
“Given the resources and incredible platform of the NBA, we have the power to ideate, implement and support substantive policies that reflect the core principles of equality and justice we embrace,” said NBPA Executive Director Michele Roberts. “This Foundation will provide a framework for us to stay committed and accountable to these principles.”
The 30 NBA teams will be members of the NBA Foundation with its eight Board of Directors comprised of representatives from the NBA Board of Governors (four board seats), players and executives from the NBPA (three board seats) and the league office (one board seat). The Foundation’s board will oversee all business affairs and provide strategic direction with respect to programming and grantmaking.