The NBA Foundation announced 38 new grants totaling $11 million to help create employment opportunities, further career advancement and drive greater economic empowerment for Black youth. The NBA Foundation was created in August 2020 with a 10-year, $300 million commitment by Rockets owner Tilman J. Fertitta and the other 29 team governors. It is the league’s first-ever charitable foundation.
Houston’s Urban Enrichment Institute received a grant, as did the Social Justice Learning Institute, which operates in Houston and Los Angeles. Other national organizations selected which are active in the Houston community include the National Urban League, Children’s Defense Fund, National Black MBA Association, BMe Community, and A Call to Men.
The Urban Enrichment Institute, formerly the Fifth Ward Enrichment Program, is a youth leadership and development program for at-risk males, ages 12-19. Its’ central focus is to help at-risk boys during the critical age of adolescence. Their holistic approach to youth development and inclusive programs seek to redirect young people to focus on future goals rather than falling into destructive paths.
“The Urban Enrichment Institute is proud and honored to be the recipient of this transformative gift from the NBA Foundation,” said Keith E. Cornelius, Executive Director of the Urban Enrichment Institute. “We are thankful for the over 20 years of support & encouragement from the Houston Rockets organization and Mr. Tilman Fertitta. This donation will showcase the collaboration between UEI, the Houston Rockets, and the NBA. It will also raise the profile of UEI beyond the City of Houston.”
The Social Justice Learning Institute works to improve the education and well-being of youth of color in Houston and Los Angeles. They will use the NBA’s grant to bolster their “Power Up!” program which provides participants ages 13-18 and alumni ages 18-24 with year-long activities, including workshops, professional coaching, monthly meetings, and retreats aimed towards advancing education and building careers.
“Funds from the NBA Foundation will deepen our investment in strengthening the youth voice and experience while building capacity for these emerging leaders who will help solve some of today and tomorrow’s most pressing challenges,” said Derek Steele, Executive Director of the Social Justice Learning Institute.
The recipients were named as part of the NBA Foundation’s fourth grant round during the league’s Season of Giving (Nov. 22 – Dec. 25), a five-week celebration during the holiday season when NBA family gives back by supporting and uplifting youth, families and organizations across the country.
The grants will help enhance the impactful work of these national and local organizations in alignment with the NBA Foundation’s mission to provide skills training, mentorship, coaching and pipeline development for high school, college-aged, job-ready and mid-career individuals, focusing in team markets throughout the United States and Canada.