NBA Foundation extends partnership with Children’s Defense Fund with $3.6 million in funding

NEW YORK –  The NBA Foundation has announced its largest single grant to-date to the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), totaling $3.6 million over a span of three years. Through this partnership, CDF will help identify candidates and support program management for the NBA HBCU Fellowship Program.  Launched in 2022 by the Foundation, the Fellowship provides career development opportunities in the business of basketball for undergraduate and graduate students from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).

As part of the partnership, CDF will expand learning and career development opportunities for program participants to include a robust orientation, a closing retreat at CDF’s historic Alex Haley Farm as well as social justice education in collaboration with Fearless Dialogues, a grassroots organization committed to creating unique spaces for unlikely partners to engage in hard heartfelt conversations. The programmatic elements will serve to strengthen students’ professional competencies and address the dynamics and challenges of transitioning into the workforce.

CDF envisions a nation where marginalized children flourish, leaders prioritize their well-being, and communities wield the power to ensure they thrive.  The organization was first awarded a grant from the NBA Foundation in December 2021 to support the Black Student Leadership Network, CDF’s yearlong fellowship program focused on civic education, civic engagement and servant leadership development for Black students on college campuses.  The network helps to foster the professional development of Black youth through leadership training, mentorship with prominent Black leaders, economic and career advancement and networking opportunities.  The program also serves to help the next generation of leaders identify community organizing and social change as a viable career pathway with potential for growth.

“We are excited about the expansion of our partnership with the Children’s Defense Fund to bolster the NBA HBCU Fellowship Program,” said NBA Foundation Executive Director Greg Taylor.  “CDF’s legacy of social justice and unique approach to professional development for young people of color elevated them as the perfect collaborator and will help our program step into a new model centered on youth wellbeing.”

“Through leadership development and collaboration, Children’s Defense Fund helps young people activate their power and agency,” said CDF President and CEO Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson.  “As an alumnus and cheerleader for HBCUs, I envy the hundreds of NBA HBCU Fellows who will benefit from this innovative effort the NBA Foundation, Fearless Dialogues, and our energized staff team are crafting together. We look forward to supporting them and following their lead.”

The NBA HBCU Fellowship Program spans a ten-week period from June to August where students receive hands-on experience interning in disciplines such as marketing, human resources, community relations, basketball operations, corporate partnerships and more at the NBA league office and teams.  The inaugural cohort featured 60 students representing 24 HBCUs.  In line with the Foundation’s mission to drive economic opportunity among Black youth, the Fellowship serves as an extension of the NBA’s commitment to advancing educational and career opportunities in collaboration with HBCUs for students and alumni.   Interested students can apply for the 2023 NBA HBCU Fellowship Program here until Feb. 20.

This month the NBA Foundation will award a total of $12 million in grants to 31 nonprofit organizations historically serving the Black community.  Of the 31, 12 organizations are receiving grant renewals while 19 are receiving new grants to support programming and capacity building.  To learn more about the organizations awarded funding as part of the Foundation’s eighth round of grant funding during Black History Month, click here.

For additional information about the NBA Foundation and to apply for a grant, click here.