Ben Simmons is all-in in Brooklyn. Last week, it was revealed he is moving into a Brooklyn condo near Manhattan Bridge and on Tuesday, there was news that he has partnered with RISE, the leading national nonprofit dedicated to eliminating racism through sport, to provide underserved youth in Brooklyn with “the tools to address issues of racism, prejudice and inclusivity within their communities.”
The eight-week leadership program tipped-off on Saturday, September 24 at the HSS Training Center, meeting with Simmons. Teens from Good Shepherd Services — which itself helps over 30,000 youth and family members in struggling neighborhoods throughout New York — are participating in the first phase of the program. They’ll meet each Saturday through November 12.
As part of the program, “participants will be challenged to work together as teams to develop creative projects that address key issues of inequality and injustice facing their communities,” according to a release from the Manhattan-based group. After eight weeks, each group will present their creative projects to Simmons, other athletes and social justice experts to discuss how they can implement their ideas to inspire real change.
“I’m excited to partner with RISE, we have the same belief that sport has the power to unite people from all different backgrounds and drive positive change,” said Simmons. “To be able to connect with youth in Brooklyn and create opportunities for future leaders in the community is important to me.”
The group’s board of directors includes Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner as well as the commissioners of the NFL, MLB, MLS and the NHL. Paul Tagliabue, the former NFL commissioner, is chairman of RISE.
he leadership program will also provide the group with mental health resources to help them cope with the many challenges they face and create safe spaces to have difficult but necessary conversations about race and community.
“Addressing racism and creating inclusive and equitable communities demands long-term, intentional action, and requires education, skill development and the ability to engage in difficult conversations with people who have different perspectives and experiences than your own,” said RISE Chief Program Officer Dr. Andrew Mac Intosh.
“Sports have the power to unite people of all backgrounds and can be the conduit for creating positive social change. When athletes like Ben Simmons act as true leaders and invest in communities through programs like these, it can have a tremendous impact.”
Simmons’ involvement is through his family foundation, which also includes breaking down barriers in its mission.