Graham Kilmer

Bucks, NBA Donate to Running Rebels

The 1,772nd project for NBA Cares program goes to local youth program, wins praise from local officials.

By - Jul 13th, 2021 10:49 am
Mayor Tom Barrett. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Mayor Tom Barrett. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

The Milwaukee Bucks and the NBA announced an investment Monday in Running Rebels, a Milwaukee community organization that provides mentorship and programming for youth and young adults.

At an event outside the Running Rebels facility at 1300 W. Fond du Lac Ave., officials from the NBA, the Bucks, along with Mayor Tom Barrett and County Executive David Crowley, announced a new NBA Learn and Play Center for the organization.

As part of the Learn and Play Center, the Bucks, the NBA and other partners are funding a build out of the second-floor recreation area.

“This space is for young people to relax and have fun, play pool, play ping pong, play chess,” said Dawn Barnett, who operates Running Rebels with her husband Victor. “Just an area that makes them feel like they’re at home.”

“It’s going to allow us to do what we do better,” she said.

The organization already has a tutoring and recreation area, but this investment will allow them to better separate the two. “It was an older setup that we had,” Dawn said. “Not very youth friendly and falling apart a bit.”

The NBA Foundation in partnership with the Bucks, Kaiser Permanente, State Farm and the league’s social responsibility program, NBA Cares, is investing more than $200,000 in Running Rebels operations and building out the second-floor space.

Greg Taylor, executive director of the NBA Foundation, said the whole goal of the foundation is the economic empowerment of young Black people. “There’s real genius in communities across the country,” Taylor said, “and we wanted to be able to find organizations like Running Rebels to really be a part of investing in those futures of those young people.”

Running Rebels donation is the 1,772nd project for the NBA Cares program, said Kathy Behrens, president of social responsibility and players programs. She also said the Barnetts are among “the best leaders that we have ever worked with in terms of community partnerships.”

Bucks President Peter Feigin said Running Rebels was one of the first community groups the Bucks organization worked with when it changed ownership. He said the nonprofit “ushered us through a mentoring program” and taught the Bucks how to engage with the community.

Dawn Barnett said the Bucks don’t share the plays they use on the court, “But I’m gonna give you one play that I’ve kind of caught from them… It’s using your platform to create connection, to create hope and to create change; and that’s what they’ve done, and that’s what we’re so honored to be a part of.”

Both Barrett and Crowley praised Running Rebels. The mayor said the NBA “could not pick a better organization in this country.” The county executive said Running Rebels have been working on the “ground level” with young people for years.

Crowley introduced the Barnetts to the crowd gathered Monday for the announcement, and said, “I just want to say thank you, not only for what you have done for my life, but what you are doing for these young people on an everyday basis.”

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