How city leaders are rallying around Philly Youth Basketball

The local philanthropic start-up is hoping to create opportunities for those in Philly’s underserved communities.

Philadelphia Youth Basketball’s mission is to empower young people “as students, athletes and positive leaders.” It is a simple goal, and one that feels imminently necessary in today’s discordant political and social climates.

“Its mission,” PYB’s call to action states, “is to create opportunities for young people, especially those from under-resourced families and communities.” The group is working to do so through the game of basketball, noting that the sport has “for decades been a culturally iconic force in Philadelphia, particular in the African-American community.”

PYB’s real mission over the last few months has been more grounded. Raise money. In December the organization announced a plan to revitalize the Logan Triangle, turning it into a $25-million basketball and education center in the hopes of breaking ground within two years.

This summer’s fundraising goal is far more modest, its impact more immediate. PYB announced this week a fundraising drive — housed on crowdsourcing site Indiegogo — to raise $76,000 for their collegiate summer camp series.

“The funds raised from this campaign will help cover the costs of deserving young people to attend our Collegiate Summer Camp series,” PYB President and CEO Kenny Holdsman explained via email. “Each week we are serving approximately 70-75 young people for a week on a university campus with basketball skill-building and game play, academic enrichment, breakfast and lunch, a nutrition workshop, positive coaching and mentorship, campus exposure, a jersey and more.”

Holdsman said that each session costs about $400 per camper, with the average fee being just $80 due to, as he put it, “the ability to pay for the families of the children whom we are attracting.”

The goal is to fund more than 275 campers this summer, ranging from grades 4 through 12; a program that now accompanies their existing Middle School Partnership program that runs during the school year.

Holdsman called this year’s summer camp series a “proof of concept” for the program, suggesting PYB will “learn from, improve upon, and position for spreading and scaling, as well as donor outreach to more institutional funders such as private grant making foundations.”

One such organization is Philly-based SeventySix Capital, led by managing partner Wayne Kimmel. Kimmel, who was instrumental in bringing the Microsoft Innovation Center to Philadelphia, worked with PYB to create the current campaign, including dropping down the initial $1,000 to get the ball, so to speak, rolling.

“I chose to get involved with Philadelphia Youth Basketball because of the vision and leadership of Kenny Holdsman,” Kimmel said, via email. “Kenny and I share a similar philosophy of doing well and doing good. Of course, we are both major basketball guys and believe that we can teach and inspire our young people and make the world a better place through state-of-the-art facilities and programs like PYB.”

An overhead view of the proposed $25-million Logan Triangle facility, featuring six outdoor and seven indoor courts (shown without roof).

An overhead view of the proposed $25-million Logan Triangle facility, featuring six outdoor and seven indoor courts (shown without roof).

PYB

Back in December, when the Logan Triangle project was announced, then Philadelphia Mayor-elect Jim Kenney was in attendance, saying, “anything the city can do to make this happen, we’re going to do.”

Thursday, Holdsman was quick to laud the City’s involvement, though did note one significant absence to go along with Kenney’s public support.

“The City has been helpful so far, albeit not yet in a financial sense,” Holdsman said. “Mayor Kenney has been an important advocate who spoke passionately at our public announcement, at our April Madness tournament at the Palestra, and in a soon-to-be-produced awareness building video.”

Holdsman also pointed out the “information and encouragement” PYB has received from Brian Abernathy, the former Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority executive director and current Deputy Managing Director under Kenney, as well as Councilwoman Cindy Bass, who assisted during deliberations on whether to locate the center at the Logan Triangle location.

And Philadelphia has a rich tradition with the game of basketball. PYB has made certain to reference that history in all its calls to action and promotional materials. There is, however, no mention of any involvement with the local professional basketball team.

“We are having various conversations with members of the 76ers staff and ownership group,” Holdsman replied when asked about the Sixers getting involved. “We are hopeful that we will be able to structure a relationship which is of great value to the young people of our city and region.”

The summer camp program fundraiser is live at a crowdsourced-based fundraising page on Generosity. For more info on PYB, including how to sign up for the summer camp program, visit phillyyouthbasketball.org.

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