This past May, the LA84 Foundation and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Foundation announced an initiative to refurbish basketball courts in low to moderate income communities throughout Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.
Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma starred in a video to help announce the court refurbishment program, which has since generated over 100,000 views.
“I think the communities are just as excited as we are,” NBPA Foundation Executive Director Sherrie Deans said.
The initiative aims to improve access and create opportunities to play for youth.
“The court refurbishment program is an example of how the LA84 foundation is working to close the play equity gap,” LA84 Foundation Senior Program Officer Nolan Ortiz said.
Communities, such as Los Angeles, are sacred to the NBPA and the foundation is invested in trying to “make beautiful” of spaces people may have forgotten.
“Whenever we come to a city in a large way, like we did last year with All-Star Weekend, we try to figure out the proper way to honor the residents of that city,” Deans said. “All of our players, despite where they come from, usually got their start on a local basketball court.”
The two foundations are evaluating grant applications from organizations to determine if they meet specific guidelines of eligibility, such as the court being in a high area of need, and will select based upon strength. Organizations range from nonprofits to a network of schools or a school district, situated in areas where courts need the most help.
Other points of interest for the two foundations include pre-existing basketball programs at a specific court, or plans for the organization to implement programs as soon as the court is refurbished.
“We want to help youth find access where there is none,” Ortiz said. “If there is a barrier that prevents them from being able to play, those are the kids we want to help.”
The program will clean up courts and transform them into as good of condition as possible to provide an optimal playing experience for kids.
“We exist for this sole purpose,” Deans said.
The NBPA Foundation was interested in finding a partner that could ensure equal access to such an opportunity, and believe they have found their match in LA84.
Deans believes the foundation knows local communities best and are trusted partners.
“I’d love for the kids to know we care about them enough to invest in their health, wellness and happiness in their communities,” she said.
A key question the foundations will be asking themselves throughout the selection process will be, “how many people can benefit from this program?” For now, the initiative is a one time occurrence between the two foundations.
“Depending on the outcome and how successful the initiative becomes, there may be a chance the NBPA wants to continue to invest in this kind of program,” Ortiz said.
Most professional players, that may have crossed paths with either of the two foundations, got their start on a local basketball court. Many even grew up in the greater Los Angeles area. Giving back to young athletes in those same circles is a key point of emphasis for both foundations.