The NBA Foundation has made its largest single contribution to date, totaling $3.6 million over three years, to the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF). Through this collaboration, CDF will assist in the identification of candidates and program management for the NBA HBCU Fellowship Program. The Foundation’s Fellowship, which will be launched in 2022, will provide undergraduate and graduate students from historically Black schools and institutions with career development opportunities in the basketball business (HBCUs).

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As part of the partnership, CDF will expand program participants’ learning and career development opportunities to include a robust orientation, a closing retreat at CDF’s historic Alex Haley Farm, and social justice education in collaboration with Fearless Dialogues, a grassroots organization dedicated to creating unique spaces for unlikely partners to engage in hard heartfelt conversations. The programmatic features will help students improve their professional competencies and confront the dynamics and problems of entering the workforce.

CDF envisions a country in which marginalized children thrive, leaders prioritize their well-being, and communities wield the power to secure their success. In December 2021, the NBA Foundation awarded the organization a grant to assist 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. Through leadership training, mentorship with famous Black leaders, economic and career progress, and networking opportunities, the network promotes the professional development of Black adolescents. The curriculum also assists the next generation of leaders in identifying community organizing and social change as a realistic career path with room for advancement.


“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 runs from June to August and provides students with hands-on experience interning at the NBA league office and teams in areas such as marketing, human resources, community relations, basketball operations, corporate partnerships, and more. The first cohort included 60 students from 24 HBCUs. In keeping with the Foundation’s purpose of increasing economic opportunity for Black youth, the Fellowship is an extension of the NBA’s commitment to enhancing educational and employment prospects for students and alumni through engagement with HBCUs. Students interested in applying for the 2023 NBA HBCU Fellowship Program can do so online through February 20.

The NBA Foundation will offer a total of $12 million in awards to 31 nonprofit groups that have historically served the Black community this month. Twelve of the 31 organizations are getting grant renewals, while 19 are getting new grants to help with programming and capacity building.

You can visit hear to learn more about the Foundation’s eighth round of grant funding during Black History Month here.