NBA Commits $300 Million to New Fund to Support Black Empowerment

    • The NBA has grappled with how to effectively demonstrate its commitment to social justice amid the restarted bubble season.
    • All 30 teams will contribute to the fund, which will center on access to employment and career advancement resources.

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The NBA board of governors will contribute $300 million in initial funding to launch the NBA Foundation for “creating greater economic empowerment in the Black community” in partnership with the National Basketball Players Association, the league announced Wednesday. 

Over the next decade, 30 team owners will combine to contribute $30 million annually. The Foundation will center on access to employment and career advancement resources 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.”

According to the announcement, the Foundation will also work with marketing and media partners to develop additional programs and funding that “deepen the NBA family’s commitment to racial equality and social justice.”

The Foundation will focus its efforts on three critical points in employment: getting a first job, getting a job after high school or college, and career advancement once employed. 

“The creation of this foundation is an important step in developing more opportunities for the Black community,” said NBPA President Chris Paul.  “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.”

“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,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said.

The Foundation’s eight board members will include four NBA board of governors representatives, three representatives who are players and executives from the NBPA and one from the league office. 

The announcement comes amid the NBA’s restarted bubble season, during which the league has grappled with how to publicly and meaningfully show its commitment to social justice causes. Ahead of the season, the NBA landed on displaying “Black Lives Matter” on its courts at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and allowed players to wear an NBA-approved phrase on their jerseys in lieu of their last names. 

The efforts thus far did not resonate with every player, however. LeBron James, for example – who is already involved in a number of off-court social justice initiatives – opted to wear his own name.

Other players are donating money to the cause themselves. 

New Orleans Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday and his wife Lauren started their own social justice fund with his game checks from this season, worth up to $5.3 million. Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes and his wife Brittany, who have a history of altruism, announced they are donating $200,000 to different nonprofits created by the families of victims of police brutality and gun violence and Barnes will highlight each of their messages on social media.