Bucks, NBA Donate to Running Rebels
The 1,772nd project for NBA Cares program goes to local youth program, wins praise from local officials.
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.
“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.”
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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