The New York Knicks and Hub International are proud to recognize local community heroes this season through the Sweetwater Clifton 'City Spirit' Award named in honor of the first African American Knicks player, Nat ‘Sweetwater’ Clifton.

We’re proud to partner with HUB International to celebrate and recognize community heroes throughout the season. The Knicks will make a $10,000 donation to a charity of the recipient’s choice.
The Knicks and HUB International are considering nominations for people who have made a significant difference in the lives of others through consistent dedication to their community.

Recipients will be honored throughout the 2023-2024 season and will each receive a $10,000 donation to a charity of their choice.

2023-24 Season Winners


The New York Knicks and HUB International are proud to announce the recipients of the Sweetwater Clifton “City Spirit” Award this month. The award is named in honor of Basketball Hall-of-Famer Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, the first African American to play for the Knicks, and recognizes individuals who have made a significant difference in the lives of others through community involvement. Lymaris Albors, CEO of Acacia Network, received the award on March 5 during the Knicks Hispanic Heritage Night, while Chiene Jones, Founder of Grow Our Game, received the award during the Knicks Women’s Empowerment Night at Madison Square Garden on March 8. In recognition of their work, the Knicks and HUB International are donating $10,000 to each of their respective organizations

Read more about Lymaris Albors & Chiene Joy Jones' stories here.


The New York Knicks and HUB International are proud to announce the recipients of the Sweetwater Clifton “City Spirit” Award this month. The award is named in honor of Basketball Hall-of-Famer Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, the first African American to play for the Knicks, and recognizes individuals who have made a significant difference in the lives of others through community involvement. Dr. Danielle R. Moss Cox – CEO, Oliver Scholars, received the award on February 1 during the Knicks Celebrating the Black Experience game, while Yin Chang and Moonlynn Tsai, Co-Founders, Heart of Dinner, received the award during the Lunar New Year Game on February 6 at Madison Square Garden. In recognition of their work, the Knicks and HUB International are donating $10,000 to each of their respective organizations.

Read more about Dr. Danielle R. Moss Cox & Yin Chang and Moonlynn Tsai's stories here.


The New York Knicks and HUB International are proud to announce two recipients of the Sweetwater Clifton “City Spirit” Award this month. The award is named in honor of Basketball Hall-of-Famer Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, the first African American to play for the Knicks, and recognizes individuals who have made a significant difference in the lives of others through community involvement.

Melissa D’Andrea Sullivan, Executive Director of PFLAG NYC received the award on January 9th, as the Knicks celebrated Pride Night at Madison Square Garden, and Dr. Hazel N. Dukes, President of the NAACP New York State Conference received the award during the MLK Day game on January 15 at Madison Square Garden. In recognition of their work, the Knicks and HUB International are donating $10,000 each to their respective organizations.

Read more about Melissa D'Andrea and Dr. Hazel N. Dukes' story here.


The New York Knicks and HUB International are proud to announce United States Marine Veteran Dre Popow as this month’s recipient of the Sweetwater Clifton “City Spirit” Award. The award is named in honor of Basketball Hall-of-Famer Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, the first African American to play for the Knicks, and recognizes individuals who have made a significant difference in the lives of others through community involvement. In recognition of his work, the Knicks and HUB International are donating $10,000 to The Veterans Rebuilding Life organization.

The co-founder and Managing Director of Veterans Rebuilding Life, Christian Zamora, accepted the award on Dre Popow’s behalf at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, November 12, on the court by Knicks alumnus John Wallace, Queens Councilman Robert Holden and HUB International Sr. Claims Consultant and U.S. Marine Veteran Jason White.

Read more about Dre Popow's story here.

Past Winners


The New York Knicks and HUB International are proud to announce Eileen Torres as a recipient of the Sweetwater Clifton “City Spirit” Award. The award is named in honor of Basketball Hall-of-Famer Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, the first African American to play for the Knicks, and recognizes individuals who have made a significant difference in the lives of others through community involvement. The Knicks and HUB International are making a $10,000 donation to BronxWorks as Eileen Torres’ charity of choice. As part of the program, the upcoming “Sweetwater” film, which tells the story of Clifton’s life and debuts on April 14, is providing a $5,000 donation, totaling $15,000,towards the BronxWorks organization. 

Eileen Torres was presented with the award at Madison Square Garden tonight, Wednesday, March 29, on the court and Jeremy Piven, Everett Osborne and Carly Elwes who are starring in the upcoming film “Sweetwater,” participated in the on-court presentation during the game. 

Eileen Torres has been the Executive Director of BronxWorks since May 2014. BronxWorks helps individuals and families improve their economic and social well-being. From toddlers to seniors, the organization feeds, shelters, teaches, and supports their neighbors to build a stronger Bronx community. As the leader of the agency, she serves as the ultimate advocate for the 60,000+ residents of the Bronx that receive services from BronxWorks as well as the nearly 1,000 employees across the organization. Eileen has been with BronxWorks since 1995, starting in administrative roles, serving as Admin Counsel and General Counsel, and stepping in as interim Executive Director/COO in 2013. As the current Executive Director, Eileen has expanded the scope, reach and impact of services to the Bronx community. Under her direction, BronxWorks has added multiple new sites, formed many new public and private partnerships, and received outside recognition for its effective work including the 2013 New York Nonprofit Excellence Award. 


The New York Knicks and HUB International are proud to announce Jenny Dembrow and Ebonie Simpson, Co-Executive Directors of the Lower Eastside Girls Club, as the recipients of the Sweetwater Clifton “City Spirit” Award. The award is named in honor of Basketball Hall-of-Famer Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, the first African American to play for the Knicks, and it recognizes individuals who have made a significant difference in the lives of others through community involvement. In alignment with the Knicks “Celebrating Women’s Empowerment” theme night, the Knicks and HUB International will make a $10,000 donation to The Lower Eastside Girls Club as Jenny Dembrow and Ebonie Simpson’s charity of choice.

Dembrow and Simpson will be presented with “City Spirit” Award at Madison Square Garden, Tuesday, March 7, during the Knicks “Celebrating Women’s Empowerment” theme night. The Lower Eastside Girls Club supports young women and gender-expansive youth of color throughout New York City in leveraging their inner power to shape a better future for themselves, their community, and the world.  Through free, year-round, innovative programming, they connect young people with their passions, celebrate their curiosity, and channel their creative energy. 


The New York Knicks and Hub International are excited to recognize Cristina Jones as the fourth City Spirit Award recipient of the season.  

Cristina Jones (she/her) is the Chief People and Equity Officer of The Center.  She is a change leader with a passion for the intersection of people and equity work.  In her role, she provides thought leadership, oversight and direction to the overall provision of people and HR services and partners with leaders across the organization to develop and implement strategic initiatives that drive and support a highly engaged and performing organizational culture centered in equity and justice. She brings a people-centered approach to all aspects of talent strategy and applies an equity lens, actively working to bring underrepresented voices to the table.

Cristina started her career in the education space working for SCORE! Learning Inc. and The After-School Corporation, which provides after-school services. After getting her MBA, Cristina joined a single-sex charter school network and developed and implemented finance, operations, and HR strategies for a fast-growing network of charter schools. Cristina went on to work as an independent consultant focused on helping schools, nonprofits and small businesses with human resources, talent management and organizational development best practices. Prior to The Center, she served as the Senior Director of Human Resources for The Fortune Society, a criminal justice nonprofit that supports successful reentry from incarceration and promotes alternatives to incarceration.  Cristina received her BA from Stanford University and MBA from Columbia University.

The Knicks and Hub International are proud to celebrate Cristina and her impact as she continues to support the LGBTQ+ community. A $10,000 donation will be made to The Center as Cristina's charity of choice. 


The New York Knicks and HUB International are proud to announce Bertha Lewis as tonight’s recipient of the Sweetwater Clifton “City Spirit” Award. The award is named in honor of Basketball Hall-of-Famer Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton, the first African American to play for the Knicks, and it recognizes individuals who have made a significant difference in the lives of others through community involvement. In alignment with the Knicks “Celebrating The Black Experience” theme night, the Knicks and HUB International will make a $10,000 donation to a charity of Bertha Lewis’ choice. In addition, there will be a second winner of the Sweetwater Clifton “City Spirit” Award, with a second donation of $10,000 to that winner’s charity of choice, announced later this month.

Bertha Lewis was presented with the “City Spirit” Award at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, February 2 during the Knicks “Celebrating The Black Experience” theme night. Bertha Lewis is the Founder and President of The Black Institute and has worked as an activist and community organizer for over 25 years. Bertha has fought for immigrant rights by advocating at the city, state and federal levels and has been an integral part of the low-wage workers campaign to guarantee higher pay, paid sick days and family leave. Bertha has also worked with developers to create a landmark community benefits agreement to secure affordable housing, living wages, local hiring, and training programs for the community. Most recently, Bertha has led the charge in advocating for Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprises in New York City.

“Congratulations to Ms. Lewis for the amazing work she has done in her community,” said Kevin Bradley, HUB Vice President of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Community. “We at HUB recognize the importance of supporting and empowering our local communities. We appreciate and applaud your commitment and dedication to this effort.”


The New York Knicks and Hub International are excited to recognize Jo-Ann Yoo as the second Sweetwater Clifton City Spirit Award recipient of the 2022-23 season. 

Jo-Ann Yoo is the executive director of the Asian American Federation (AAF), an umbrella leadership organization that collaborates with nearly 70 nonprofits to represent and support New York's 1.5 million-strong pan-Asian community. Established in 1989, with the mission to raise the influence and well-being of the pan-Asian American community through research, policy advocacy, public awareness, and nonprofit support, AAF is the largest umbrella leadership organization in New York serving diverse Asian American communities that make up the fastest-growing population in the city, state, and country. In partnership with 70 member and partner organizations, AAF represents the collective interests of 1.5 million Asian New Yorkers, across critical issue areas such as immigrant integration, mental health, economic development, and civic engagement.

Ms. Yoo was named to the City and State of NY's Power of Diversity list in 2022, as well as the publication's Asian Power 100 list in 2021 and 2020. Ms. Yoo was a Commissioner on New York City's Racial Justice Commission, co-leads Governor Hochul’s AAPI Mental health Task Force, and serves on Mayor Adams' COVID-19 Recovery Roundtable and Health Equity Task Force.

The Knicks and Hub International are extremely proud to recognize Jo-Ann for her efforts in impacting the Pan-Asian community. A $10,000 donation will be made to the Asian American Federation as Jo-Ann’s charity of choice.


As a part of the Knicks MLK Day game on January 16, the New York Knicks and Hub International recognized Dr. Jocelynne Rainey, Ed.D. as the first Sweetwater Clifton City Spirit Award recipient of the 2022-23 season.

Dr. Jocelynne Rainey, Ed.D. is a seasoned executive with over 20 years of management experience and a leader in the nonprofit sector in New York City. Dr. Rainey joined Brooklyn Community Foundation in December 2021, at an exciting moment of growth and opportunity for the Foundation. As President & CEO of Brooklyn Community Foundation, Dr. Rainey oversees and develops strategic initiatives, innovative programs, and community-centered philanthropic services that embody the Foundation’s deep commitment to racial justice while furthering its mission to spark lasting social change for a fair and just Brooklyn.  

Before joining the Foundation, Dr. Rainey served as CEO and President of Getting Out and Staying Out (GOSO), a leading citywide nonprofit serving justice-involved individuals. At GOSO she oversaw programming which has helped more than 10,000 young men access education, achieve emotional well-being, and secure meaningful employment since its advent 16 years ago. Previously, Dr. Rainey was Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer for the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC), leading workforce development, administration, security, and human resource strategies for the organization. During her eight years at BNYDC, Dr. Rainey increased workforce placements of formerly incarcerated individuals from 100 placements to over 500 placements, bringing the total number of placements up to 20 percent. Dr. Rainey is the recipient of several prestigious honors, including being named one of The Network Journal’s 25 Influential Black Women in Business in 2016 and one of Crain’s Notable Black Leaders and Executives in 2021. 

The Knicks are proud to celebrate Dr. Rainey and her impact as he continues to uplift, impact, and support underserved communities. A $10,000 donation will be made to the Brooklyn Community Foundation as Dr. Rainey’s charity of choice. 


The New York Knicks and Clorox are excited to recognize Victoria Lee and Jennifer Tam as the April 2022 City Spirit Award recipients. Victoria Lee and Jennifer Tam are the co-founders of Welcome to Chinatown. Victoria Lee is the Head of Business Development & Operations, where she leads business operations and development for the organization. She is a born and raised New Yorker with the tenacious spirit needed to make an impact for the city she loves. With experience as communications expert with Fortune 500 companies Lenovo, Samsung, and Foursquare, Jennifer Tam oversees the Welcome to Chinatown's marketing and communications initiatives to promote Chinatown’s small businesses and amplify their voices.

Both Victoria and Jennifer recognized the need to support Manhattan’s Chinatown and created Welcome to Chinatown to champion change by creating an outlet for social good that bridges cultural and generational gaps. The nonprofit focuses on amplifying and addressing the critical needs of Chinatown's community and its entrepreneurs. Together, they strive to Chinatown open for generations to come. They aim to drive immediate revenue to small businesses to provide urgent relief while addressing broader community needs.

Since launching during the pandemic in early 2020, the organization has secured over $2 million for Chinatown, and launched a grant program to address the lack of funding access to people of color and non-English speaking business owners. They also have facilitated COVID-19 vaccine appointments for the senior population, provided hot meals to community pantries, and led awareness campaigns to divert more investments into the community.

The Knicks are extremely proud to recognize Victoria and Jennifer and their efforts in impacting the Chinatown community and its entrepreneurs. A donation of $5,000 was awarded to Welcome to Chinatown on behalf of Victoria Lee and Jennifer Tam.


The New York Knickerbockers and Clorox are proud to announce Melissa S. Norden as the recipient of this month’s Sweetwater Clifton “City Spirit” Award in honor of Women’s Empowerment Night. Norden is a board certified lawyer who has been heavily involved in various non profits (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, New Yorkers for Clean Livable and Safe Streets, etc.) over the past 20 years working to support causes including but not limited to preventing animal cruelty, uplifting women in law, inspiring, empowering and educating people of all backgrounds, and now helping disadvantaged women find success in the workplace. Melissa is the Executive Director of Bottomless Closet, whose mission is to be the connection that inspires and guides disadvantaged New York City women to enter the workforce and achieve success. From their grassroots beginnings, they have grown into an organization that has served more than 46,000 women in need, amassed nearly 200 dedicated volunteers and roughly 200 referral partners, and has had over 1,000 workshop attendees just last year.

The Knicks and Clorox are honored to support Melissa as she continues to strive towards making a difference in the lives of women in New York City.


The New York Knicks and Clorox are thrilled to recognize Dorita Clarke as the February 2022 City Spirit award recipient. Dorita’s “You Can Go to College Committee” was formulated to provide opportunities for students to attend college. It prepares students in grades 9-12 for the SATs, assists high school seniors with the college application and financial aid process, and provides workshops for the students to set their expectations about life in college.

Each fall, Dorita arranges for students to visit New York area colleges, which allows them to begin setting their sights on schools and programs of interest, as well as gain information on what grades and test scores will be expected of them. In the spring, Dorita accompanies students on tours of historical Black colleges and universities. As a result of her efforts, seniors can be admitted with full scholarships, and once admitted, many of the students excel with GPAs of 3.0 and above. The committee also continues to keep in touch with the students once they are in college by tracking their progress and providing them with care packages and scholarship funds. Over 5,000 students from different parts of the country have participated since 1996.

The Knicks and Clorox are honored to support Dorita as she continues to make a difference in the lives and futures of students. A donation of $5,000 was awarded to the “You Can Go To College Committee” on behalf of Dorita Clarke.


In honor of Pride Night, the New York Knicks are excited to recognize Leo Preziosi Jr. as the January 2021 City Spirit Award winner. Leo is the Founder and Executive Director of Live Out Loud. A Fashion Technology Institute (FIT) graduate and a former fashion designer and marketing professional, Leo dedicated his life to serving LGBTQ+ youth after discovering an article from Metro Source called “the gun in the closet.” The article described two students who committed suicide due to hostile school environments, seclusion, and trepidation. Consequently, he began gathering LGBTQ+ professionals to meet with high school students and discuss their experience as members of the LGBTQ+ community in the workforce. In 2001 he established Live Out Loud to battle the excessively high rates of suicide amongst LGBTQ+ youth because of bullying, prejudice, and detrimental living environments.

The mission of Live Out Loud is to partner with families, schools, and communities to provide LGBTQ+ youth (ages 13 through 18) with resources, role models, and opportunities that help them discover their voice and become leaders of change. Since its inception, Leo and Live Out Loud has assembled thousands of LGBTQ+ role models to high schools in the tri-state area. These role models vary from corporate powerhouses, grassroots activists to fashion designers. Through Leo’s leadership, Live Out Loud’s programming has expanded into not only bringing positive LGBTQ+ role models into schools, but taking youth into various workplaces, educating faculty and parents on adult allyship and inclusion, and providing scholarships and mentoring support to young scholars and leaders.

The Knicks are proud to celebrate Leo and his impact as he continues to motivate and support LGBTQ+ youth in the community. A donation of $5,000 was awarded to Live Out Loud on behalf of Leo Preziosi Jr.


The New York Knicks and Clorox are proud to recognize Elana Koenig as the December 2021 City Spirit Award winner. Elana is a 13-year-old cancer survivor, singer, speaker, entrepreneur, and founder of Koenig Childhood Cancer Foundation (KCCF). The mission of the Foundation is to supply critical financial and emotional support to children who are battling to survive cancer and to empower all children to participate actively in philanthropy.

At eight years old, Elana was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a hostile bone cancer. After her chemotherapy concluded, she pledged to assist children who are fighting cancer just like she is. Since starting the KCCF in February 2020, Elana and KCCF have given back to youth struggling with cancer. Elana and the KCCF make their impact felt with support visits, toy deliveries, inspirational speeches, care packages, and special events. Despite starting with only $900 dollars in her piggy bank, Elana and her family have grown the KCCF into a remarkable, inspirational non-profit organization. In addition to her philanthropic efforts, Elana continues to spread awareness about childhood cancer through her musical talents and speaking engagements.

The Knicks are tremendously honored to celebrate Elana as she continues to give back and support children fighting cancer, and their families. A donation of $5,000 was awarded to the Koenig Childhood Cancer Foundation on behalf of Elana Koenig and the Koenig Family.


The New York Knicks and Clorox are honored to recognize Michael Abrams as the November 2021 City Spirit Award recipient. Michael is currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves. He has served for a total of 19 years, 8 of which included active duty. Following active duty, Michael enrolled in New York University’s Stern School of Business and graduated with an M.B.A. in Finance. Michael was frustrated by the lack of access veterans and military spouses had to business occupations and professions, so he founded The FourBlock Foundation. The Foundation provides veterans and military spouses with the necessary resources and tools to successfully achieve success in civilian careers following their service. The Foundation’s goal is to build and expand a national professional network that empowers veterans and military to establish professional connections, increase relationship-building opportunities, and grow career opportunities.

Programming includes a flagship Career Readiness Program for both veterans and military spouses, and an online career transition program. Due to FourBlock’s meaningful actions, veterans are leading organizations, launching innovative new ventures, and achieving new heights at top worldwide companies.

Under Michael’s leadership The FourBlock Foundation, which began with an inaugural class of 16 transitioning veterans in New York City, has now developed into a countrywide network of professionals striving to be leaders in their communities. The Foundation community now extends to over 3,000 members and 500 participating companies across the world including Tesla, Citi, Microsoft, and Boeing.

This November, the Knicks are honored to recognize Michael and his impactful work. A donation of $5,000 was awarded to FourBlock on behalf of Michael Abrams.


The New York Knicks and Clorox are excited to recognize Kate Barnhart as the June 2021 City Spirit Award recipient. For 20 years and counting, Kate has worked with homeless LGBTQ+ youth, including 5 years serving as Director of Sylvia’s Place, an emergency shelter for the LGBTQ+ homeless. With years of experience supporting the LGBTQ+ homeless youth, Kate Barnhart decided to make a bigger impact on her own by founding New Alternatives in 2008. New Alternatives is a non-profit organization whose goal is to increase the self-sufficiency of LGBTQ+ homeless youth and young adults by providing resources, such as long-term support, education services, community-building recreational activities, opportunities for self-expression, programs for HIV+ youth, and life skills training. These resources are meant to enable the youth to transition out of the shelter system and into stable adult lives, being comfortable enough to express who they are.

Kate recognized the need for an independent, stand-alone organization that would offer long-term guidance and support in NYC. New Alternatives has a zero-barrier-to-entry model that allows clients to walk in without a referral or identification and receive counseling and case management for the long term. The organization’s social workers are also able to foster lasting relationships that provide youth with a pathway toward self-sufficiency by doing the difficult work of addressing the underlying causes of homelessness, like trauma, addiction, and mental health.

Studies show that LGBTQ+ youth compromise nearly 40% of the homeless youth population in New York City and every night, these individuals have no place to call home. Kate Barnhart and New Alternatives are constantly advocating for change. She is committed to the care and well-being of these young people and is leading the fight to end this epidemic of poverty and homelessness in New York City’s LGBTQ+ youth population.

The Knicks are extremely proud to recognize Kate and her efforts in caring for the well-being of homeless LGBTQ+ youth. A donation of $5,000 was awarded to New Alternatives on behalf of Kate Barnhart.


The New York Knicks and Clorox are proud to recognize Peter Kerre as the May 2021 City Spirit Award recipient. Peter Kerre is a 40-year-old New York resident and activist who has received significant media coverage for his volunteer work and creation of Safewalks. Safewalks is a community safety program that Peter created in January 2021 after several reports of women being assaulted at the Morgan L subway stop started to increase. Kerre began volunteering on January 3rd, posting up at the Morgan L stop to ensure that community residents traveling alone made it home safely. Concerned that there was no police presence nor warnings despite the victim count being over 5, Peter created a call to action on social media, asking for volunteers to join his efforts in offering safewalks to local area residents who felt unsafe commuting home. Sure enough, Peter was able to gain hundreds of new volunteers through his social media work and it led to establishing Safewalks.

In February, after an extreme increase in subway deaths from continuous assaults, and xenophobic attacks on elderly Asian Americans because of the false accusations about COVID-19, Safewalks expanded into Chinatown Manhattan to increase their role in being there for Asian American communities. Currently, the program has teams based in Manhattan and Brooklyn but Kerre and the volunteers are making extreme efforts in assisting commuters all over New York City.

This month, the Knicks are tremendously proud in recognizing Peter and his efforts in keeping New Yorkers safe. A donation of $5,000 was awarded to Safewalks on behalf of Kerre.


The New York Knicks recognized Susannah Koteen as the March 2021 City Spirit Award recipient. For the past ten years, Susannah has owned and operated Lido Restaurant in Harlem and recently opened Bixi in the same neighborhood. She hires young adults at her restaurants, allowing them to grow within the business and gain valuable experience. Susannah is also the president of the board for Meals For Good, an organization that works with food pantries in the Harlem area to feed those in need in the community. When her two restaurants closed temporarily this winter, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Susannah, along with Indivisible Harlem and Meals For Good, raised money to purchase groceries for those restaurant employees who were out of work. In January, the group held its first grocery distribution where 22 restaurant workers received bags of fresh groceries, produce, canned foods, and other essentials.

Along with her involvement with Meals For Goods, Susannah is the co-president of the Frederick Douglass Boulevard Alliance (FDBA), a not-for-profit organization. FDBA's mission is to build a strong community, maintain a clean and safe boulevard, and improve the quality of life for its residents, visitors, and small business owners and workers. Susannah finds joy in serving and making a positive impact on the Harlem community through her organizations.

The Knicks are proud to recognize Susannah as she continues to positively impact her community. A donation of $5,000 was rewarded to Meals For Good on behalf of Susannah.


The New York Knicks are proud to recognize Kenny Stevens as a City Spirit Award recipient. Kenny has a passion for giving back and uplifting the Washington Heights Community. He started Dyckman Youth Enterprises, an organization that works diligently to address community youth’s needs by providing academic readiness and youth employment programs, in 1990. The organization teaches youth to utilize their athletic experiences as a model to help their overall academic, social, and career development.

Kenny is also the Dyckman Basketball Tournament CEO, a notable basketball league within the New York tri-state area. The tournament employs hundreds of community youth in the summer and facilitates scholastic opportunities. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenny has created virtual programs to keep youth connected to basketball and offer emotional support. Additionally, around the holiday season, Kenny gave away over 500 turkeys to deserving families for Thanksgiving. He also hosts annual back-to-school drives and sneaker giveaways for the community.

The Knicks are proud to celebrate Kenny Stevens as he continues to enhance communities. A donation of $5,000 was awarded to Dyckman Youth Enterprises on behalf of Kenny.


The Knicks recognized Davon Russell as the September 2020 City Spirit Award recipient. Davon is the President of WHEDco, a community development nonprofit organization with the mission is providing families in the South Bronx with access to vital resources to foster the development of healthy and vibrant neighborhoods. Starting at WHEDco over 20 years ago, Davon was a part-time after school teacher. He has been a lifelong educator and mentor who believes in the transformative power of the arts.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Davon has focused on fostering housing & food security, providing quality child care and resources to the South Bronx community and essential workers, nurturing small impacted businesses, and facilitating distance learning for hundreds of children. Under Davon’s leadership and continuous efforts at WHEDco, tens of thousands of youth have grown up in enriching environments with a network of nurturing adults and education professionals for mentorship. Youth in WHEDco’s programming go on to attend high performing high schools and colleges and to become leaders within their communities, often exceeding expectations. Davon has created and implemented WHEDco’s early childhood and youth programs, spearheaded inclusive staff meetings and retreats, and overseen WHEDco’s operations and programming. All of his efforts build upon the organization’s mission in community development. In addition, Davon was appointed to sit on the NYC Department of Education’s Community Education Council.

In recognition of Davon’s continuous efforts, the Knicks donated $5,000 to WHEDco.


The New York Knicks are proud to recognize Ivy Brown as the August 2020 City Spirit Award recipient. Ivy has dedicated her life to service, even during the uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic. She has been instrumental in setting up food pantries, community gardens, and community events for underserved communities in the Morrisania area. In addition, Ivy works diligently with local shelters to provide daily essentials such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, socks, and other necessities to those in need.

Ivy serves as an instructional coordinator with SUNY Attain Lab, which operates out of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Non-Violence in conjunction with Morrisania Revitalization Corporation. In addition to her community endeavors, Ivy regularly instructs and assists students in gaining their GEDS, and other educational opportunities -- informative training, computer literacy, and career exploration tools. Last year Ivy organized a job fair in the South Bronx with major employers, attracting over 300 visitors to an area that suffers from high unemployment.

The Knicks are proud to celebrate Ivy Brown as she continues to enhance communities. A donation of $5,000 was awarded to the Utopia Resource Center, on behalf of Ivy.


The Knicks recognized Noëlle Santos as the July 2020 City Spirit Award recipient. Noëlle is the owner of The Lit. Bar, a bookstore and wine bar that creates a haven that inspires reading, encourages healthy social connections, highlights diverse voices, and increases intellectual visibility in the Bronx.

In 2016, the Bronx was left without a single bookstore. With 1.5 million people, ten colleges, and not one bookstore, Noëlle recognized an opportunity to create a sustainable, more accessible bookshop that could reflect and serve the unique needs of her community.

On National Independent Bookstore Day on April 27, 2019, The Lit. Bar opened its doors and became the only independent bookstore in the Bronx. With the onset of COVID just ten months later, Noëlle’s doors were quickly shut. She continued to serve her customers, however, with resources, virtual events, and anti-racist literature. The Lit. Bar was able to re-open its doors on July 24, 2020.

The Knicks are proud to celebrate Noëlle as she continues to be an influential and inspiring member of her community. A $5,000 donation was awarded to Dear Black Girl on her behalf. Dear Black Girl is a local non-profit designed to teach, love, and empower disenfranchised youth with a focus on young ladies. To learn more about Dear Black Girl, visit their webpage.

To learn more about and plan a visit to The Lit. Bar, click here.


In honor of Black History Month, the New York Knicks recognized The Dad Gang Founder Sean Williams as the February 2020 City Spirit Award recipient. A father of three, Sean created The Dad Gang in 2016 to change the way the world views black fatherhood. This quickly growing social movement has become the premier support group for young black fathers by sharing content that celebrates active black dads.

Recently, Sean launched a nationwide dad walk called “Strollin’ with the Homies” where The Dad Gang organizes a stroll through local parks around the country for dads and their children. Sean’s mission is to provide a safe space for dads of color to bond with their children and each other, creating a brotherhood amongst fathers as they spread their message throughout the country.

n recognition of Sean’s tireless efforts to his community, the Knicks donated $5,000 to The Dad Gang.

To learn more about The Dad Gang visit their webpage.


In honor of Pride Night, the New York Knicks recognized Destination Tomorrow Founder and Executive Director Sean Coleman as the January 2020 City Spirit Award recipient. A grassroots agency located in the South Bronx, Destination Tomorrow provides services to and for the LGBTQ community. They believe that no one should have to leave their neighborhood to access LGBTQ specific services. Sean founded Destination Tomorrow with a cornerstone of economic empowerment, offering clients skill building programs and services that provide academic enrichment as well as professional development.

As the founder of Destination Tomorrow, Sean became the first African American of Transgender experience to operate an LGBTQ center in New York City. He continues to play a key role in advocating for policies that directly impact the lives of millions of LGBTQ New Yorkers. He also serves his community as a part of Gilead’s National Transgender Advisory Group, The NYPD LGBT Advisory Board, Bronx Community Board, and the Transgender Legal and Education Defense Board, a national transgender led policy and advocacy agency.

The $5,000 donation has been allocated to Destination Tomorrow.

To learn more about Destination Tomorrow, visit their webpage.


The Knicks recognized Stephanie Consiglio, Bianca Muniz, and Samantha Haase as the December City Spirit Award recipients. Stephanie, Bianca, and Samantha are Garden of Dreams Talent Show alumnae who have battled or are currently battling cancer.

In 2015, at 14 years old, Stephanie was diagnosed with stage 3 germ cell tumors in her pelvis. During her four months of treatment, she turned to her passion of dance to help her fight, never missing a practice or competition.

Bianca has been diagnosed twice, first with ovarian cancer at age 11, and second with breast cancer at age 21. Now, at 23 years old, she has completed her last round of treatment. During her time in treatment, Bianca turned to music to help her push through. She released her first EP in 2016, several singles in 2017, and her second EP in 2018.

15-year-old Samantha is currently being treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This past year at the GDF Talent Show, she celebrated her love for music by performing “The Climb,” a song with a powerful message she believes aligns with her own journey.

The $5,000 donation was given to iDance4aCure, an organization that aims to raise awareness for childhood cancer and money for cutting edge research. After meeting at the Garden of Dreams Talent Show, the girls shared their stories and talents and helped raise over $17,000 for iDance4aCure.


The Knicks were proud to recognize Officer Erika Luna as the November City Spirit Award recipient. Erika has served her community for over 20 years as an NYPD officer, and recently became a peer counselor. The focus of the counseling program is to offer support and mental health and wellness resources to officers in need.

Erika is a key component to the NYPD’s plan to curb the drastic rise in police suicides in recent years and has gone above and beyond her counselor duties. In October, while driving home, she used her training to save a woman from nearly committing suicide in the Bronx.

The Knicks are proud to celebrate Erika as she continues to be a force in her community. A $5,000 donation was awarded to Thessalonica Christian Church in the Bronx, New York, on her behalf.


The Knicks recognized retired FDNY EMS Ivonne Sanchez as the April 2019 City Spirit Award recipient. As a Bronx, NY native, Ivonne was driven to have a career in saving lives, so she joined NYC EMS in 1988. During her distinguished career in emergency medical services, she responded to hundreds of emergencies, including the military helicopter crash in the Hudson River. She also responded on September 11, 2001 and during the entire recovery effort at ground zero. In 2002, Ivonne was forced to retire with disabilities sustained from these efforts and years later was diagnosed with World Trade Center lung disease and two battles with breast cancer. But her fight did not stop there.

Ivonne is a 9/11 first responders advocate and has been active with World Trade Center Health program efforts to get First Responders into Medical Monitoring programs. She is also a supporter of the current effort to re-fund the Victims Compensation Fund. She works with organizations, other first responders, and members of congress and the senate so that all first responders with WTC-related illness can have access to funds they desperately need. In honor of Ivonne’s commitment to First Responders, the Knicks donated $5,000 to the FealGood Foundation, an organization fighting for emergency personnel who face serious illness or injury across the country. State Senator Jamaal Bailey helped present the donation.


In celebration of Women’s History Month and in recognition of all she does for the community, the Knicks recognized Amy Chasan of Sweet Generation as the City Spirit Award recipient for March 2019. Amy has always been a passionate baker and when she left her career in education to turn her bakery, Sweet Generation, into a full-time effort, she knew it had to be mission-driven.

In 2014, Sweet Generation developed RISE - a youth internship program for the bakery that provides job training, hands on kitchen experience, and educational support for at-risk young adults. In January of 2015, Sweet Generation opened its doors to its first storefront located in the East Village. Since then, Sweet Generation has established a reputation as one of the best new bakeries in NYC. Amy and her all-woman team have worked tirelessly to ensure Sweet Generation is successful both in business and in supporting the community. The $5,000 donation will go toward RISE to continue the great work they are doing for the young adults in the program.

Click here to watch a video about Amy's story.


The Knicks are proud to recognize Kevin Livingston of 100 Suits for 100 Men. Inspired by the notion that if you are not a part of the solution then you are part of the problem, he opted to be part of the solution by creating a community-centered, non-profit organization that is making positive changes in the lives of men and women in the New York City area. Founded in 2011, 100 Suits has served the needs of underprivileged men and women in need of business attire to enter the workforce. The primary focus of the organization is providing solutions to help individuals get to a place of economic freedom and to reduce recidivism rates. 100 Suits also offers programs that collaborate with educational, workforce development, social justice and law-enforcement organizations and institutions throughout New York City.

The Knicks are proud to celebrate Kevin as he continues to lead by example and action. The $5,000 donation has been allocated to 100 Suits to help fund suits and programming for its constituents.


The Knicks recognized 15-year-old Tobey Beyer with the January 2019 Sweetwater Clifton ‘City Spirit’ Award. Tobey is very involved in his community, acting as a teacher’s assistant to 2nd graders and preparing and distributing meals for the homeless with his local synagogue. A lifelong Knicks fan, Tobey sought to combine his love of giving back with his love of basketball by hosting a 3-on-3 basketball tournament and fundraiser, with all proceeds being donated to the Garden of Dreams Foundation. In the summer of 2018, Tobey hosted the inaugural basketball tournament, raising $8,500 for the Garden of Dreams. Tobey also chose the Garden of Dreams for the $5,000 donation to a charity of his choice.

Tobey plans to continue the tournament fundraiser, and the Knicks and the Garden of Dreams Foundation look forward to partnering with him to continue his efforts.


The Knicks are proud to recognize Mike Simmel as the December City Spirit Award recipient. Mike Simmel founded The Bounce Out the Stigma Project with his father in 2005. Bounce Out the Stigma is an organization dedicated to educating the public, teaching healthy choices, and empowering youth with disabilities. It has now grown into a national campaign which includes inclusive basketball camps and clinics across ten states.

Mike developed epilepsy when he was two years old and was debilitated to the point where he could not participate in “regular” activities. But he and his family worked to overcome this adversity, using basketball as a catalyst. He was a third-year varsity starter, standout point guard, captain, and graduate of Don Bosco Prep. He later was the team’s assists and steals leader at the prestigious Hun School of Princeton as a postgraduate student. His bouts with seizures would continue through college, which led him down a tough road where he would eventually finish and get his degree at SUNY Purchase, where he was a two-year captain and team leader in assist and steals.

Mike has made it his mission to help connect with kids and tell his story to all in order to empower people with disabilities.


BUILD NYC is a nationally recognized college and career readiness non-profit, dedicated to igniting the potential of high school students through hands-on entrepreneurial learning. The Knicks and BUILD program, presented by Chase, currently serves over 300 students across eight partner high schools in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, where graduation rates are as low as 41%. Chymeka Olfonse has been the Regional Executive Director since the program launched in New York and has seen success in students as they create, launch, and sustain their own businesses.

The Knicks and Chase are proud to partner with this incredible program to change the lives of youth across the city.


In celebration of Autism Awareness Month, the Knicks recognized Kevin Brosnick, the executive director of the GRACE Foundation, as the April 2018 Sweetwater ‘City Spirit’ Award recipient. The GRACE Foundation was formed eighteen years ago by four parents in Staten Island. The foundation’s mission is to support, educate and enhance the quality of life for children, teens, young adults and their families who face unique social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication challenges daily.

The foundation provides programs in areas of social skills, performing arts, day habilitation, arts and crafts, physical and team activities, daily living skills and community service. GRACE strives to impact self-esteem, opportunity, and dignity and encourages all participants to approach each day with tremendous courage and hope, not allowing themselves to be defined or marginalized by autism. Kevin accepted the award on April 3 at the Knicks vs. Magic game.


The Knicks recognized Mary Keane as the March 2018 Sweetwater Clifton ‘City Spirit’ Award recipient. Mary is the executive director of You Gotta Believe, a non-profit organization devoted to finding permanent families for young adults in foster care. Mary is an outspoken advocate for the organization’s LGBTQ efforts and is the leadership behind all its programs. On top of her work with You Gotta Believe, Mary is a foster mom to almost two dozen teenagers and is currently the adoptive mother of 13 children. The Knicks are proud to celebrate and recognize the tremendous work Mary is doing in her community.


In celebration of Black History Month, the Knicks recognized the Black Fives Foundation. The Black Fives Foundation researches, preserves and teaches the pre-NBA history of African Americans in Basketball while honoring its pioneers. Their work brings proper recognition to this once-forgotten, but important history, while also revealing the crucial life lessons this history can teach us like leadership, character, collaboration, grit and community stewardship.

Founded in 2013, the organization is the only tax-exempt public charity dedicates to this work and maintains the world’s largest known collection of pre-NBA African American basketball artifacts in its archives. The foundation works with community organizations and mission-aligned brands across the country to create and execute programs in support of its mission, with the motto, “Make history Now!” These include exhibits, education presentations, artifact preservation and oral histories.

Board member Claire Fay accepted the award on the organization’s behalf on February 6th.


The Knicks recognized Alicia White as the January 2018 Sweetwater Clifton ‘City Spirit’ Award recipient. Alicia is the President and Founder of Project Petals, an environmental and community development organization in New York City that provides educational workshops and resources to communities in need. Alicia started Project Petals in 2014 to give back to the community that she grew up in Jamaica, Queens. Her organization has since grown to include Harlem and other communities around the world. The organization also seeks to foster youth leadership through the Youth Builders Program. The program prepares young people for careers that are needed to develop communities and make them more sustainable.

Alicia’s goal is not only to revitalize communities, but create capacity and build internal leadership. Alicia works around the clock to connect people with the necessary tools, funding, and connections they need to transform their communities. Her advocacy work stems from a passion for expanding the economic and environmental growth of communities in need. By not only advocating for communities, but providing them with the tools they need to advocate for themselves.


The New York Knicks are proud and honored to recognize Reginald T. Brewster, a former Tuskegee Airman and community lawyer. In 1941, Reginald was drafted into the United States Air Force where he was trained at the Tuskegee Air Force base, the first military base in the country to train African-American pilots. While at Tuskegee, Reginald served as the secretary to the base Commander.

Upon his honorable discharge due to a shrapnel injury, Reginald was afforded the opportunity to attend Fordham University, followed by Fordham School of Law. He began practicing law in the New York City area in 1951 and served as a community lawyer throughout the area for more than 50 years. He retired in 2007 at the age of 90.


Alvin Irby is an award-winning educator, comedian and author and is the founder of Barbershop Books. Founded in Harlem, Barbershop Books is a community-based program that creates child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops and provides early literacy training to barbers. Barbershop Books is the winner of the National Book Foundation’s 2017 Innovations in Reading Prize. They currently partner with more than 100 barbershops in over 27 cities and 18 states with plans to expand into 50 new barbershops across NYC by September 2018. The Knicks are proud to recognize Alvin Irby for his work in positively influencing our community.


Massimo DiDonna was recognized on-court as the winner of the Sweetwater Clifton Spirit Award for the month of April. Massimo is the President of the Carl V. Bini Memorial Fund, which was created to honor Carl V. Bini. Bini was a New York City Firefighter of 18 years assigned to Rescue 5 in Staten Island who lost his life during the September 11th terror attacks. The Bini Fund supports the community through scholarships, emergency grants and special needs assistance. Since its inception, the organization has allocated more than $150,000 in scholarships and has opened "Carl's House," a free community resource center. The $5,000 donation will go towards the fund and its mission to continue Bini's lifelong belief of helping others.


The Knicks honored Nelba Marquez-Greene with the Sweetwater Clifton Award award for March. Nelba is a clinical fellow of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and founded the Ana Grace Project in memory of her daughter, Ana Grace, who lost her life during the Sandy Hook tragedy in December 2012. The Ana Grace project is dedicated to promoting love, community and connection for every child and family through three lead initiatives: partner schools, professional development, and music & arts.

Nelba, a member of the Garden of Dreams family since 2013, was honored for her tireless efforts to bring to life the light and joy that her daughter embodied and to teach children the important skills of empathy and love. The $5,000 will go towards Nelba’s mission of helping to connect students with one another.


The Knicks recognized Nicole Pulphus and Tiffanne Prentis from Harlem for their positive impact on the community through the Riverside Hawks Youth Program. This program provides academic guidance and support for student athletes through afterschool and tutoring programs, promoting the development of strong moral character, and helping ensure the youth achieve their pursuits. Both Tiffanne and Nicole have encouraged excellence in sports as a way of advancing excellence in academics and assisting young people in becoming valuable contributors of their community. They will donate their $5,000 to the Riverside Hawks program.


The Knicks recognized Founder and Executive Director of Hands That Make a Difference, Lisa Fields-Linnen, for her dedication and commitment to work with the youth. Lisa has been devoted to enriching the lives of young people in Harlem for 28 years and created Hands That Make a Difference as a safe-haven for at-risk youth. Lisa believes that unity will save our community and the Knicks are proud to support her mission of youth development and growth.


Abdul “Sleep” Johnson was selected as December’s Sweetwater Clifton Award Winner. Sleep founded the Community Board Athletic Leadership League (C-BALL) when he noticed the lack of youth involvement on the Bronx Youth Community Boards, where he served as Parks and Recreation, Youth Services and Historical Outreach chairman. C-BALL focuses on specialized games and activities, as well as job development opportunities and mentorship programs that are structured to educate the youth within the community and make them aware of their civic responsibilities. Sleep was honored in December and will use the donation money to help fund free activities for youth in the community.


The Knicks honored Tony Hillery as the November Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award recipient. Tony is the Founder and Executive Director of Harlem Grown. He founded Harlem Grown in 2011 to address the health and academic challenges facing public elementary school students in Harlem. Today, the organization serves over 2,500 students per year while growing and providing over 2,000 lbs. of fruits and vegetables to children and families in Harlem.

Tony was honored by Knicks Legend John Starks at center court of Madison Square Garden when the Knicks hosted the Dallas Mavericks on November 14th, 2016. The $2,000 donation will go to Harlem Grown to help support Tony’s mission of inspiring youth to lead healthy and ambitious lives.


The Knicks recognized Michael and Marc Guberti of Scarsdale, New York as the final Sweetwater Clifton “City Spirit” Award recipients of the 2015-16 season. The award, sponsored by ZTE USA, was presented by Allan Houston to the Guberti brothers on Wednesday, April 6 at the Knicks vs. Hornets game at Madison Square Garden.

Read more about Michael and Marc Guberti's story here.


The New York Knickerbockers honored Tomi the dog as March's Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award recipient, presented by ZTE USA, for saving his family from their burning home in October 2015.

Read more about Tomi the Dog's story here.


The New York Knickerbockers honored Dr. Latasha Jones, of the Bronx, NY, as February's Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award recipient, presented by ZTE USA, for inspiring her students to make a difference in their community.

Read more about Dr. Latasha Jones' story here.


The New York Knickerbockers honored the late NYPD Detective Joseph Lemm as January's Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award recipient.

Lemm was a technical sergeant who served in the U.S. Air Force and joined the Air National Guard after being discharged, served one tour in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.

Read more about Joseph Lemm and the Lemm Family's story here.


The New York Knicks have announced The Perez Family, of Brooklyn, NY, as this month's Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award recipients for volunteering their services to nonprofit organizations that benefit children facing life threatening obstacles.

Read more about the Perez Family's story here.


The New York Knickerbockers honored the late Brian Beutel, of Bergen County, NJ, as November's Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award presented by ZTE USA winner for his generosity and kindness gestures for the Bergen County community.

Read more about Brian Beutel and the Beutel Family's store here.


The New York Knickerbockers have honored Boys Club of New York Educational Services Director and Latino College Expo Co-Founder, Antonio Aponte of New York, as the Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award winner for the month of March. The Latino College Expo elevates the educational aspirations of the Latino community by offering an array of specialized services tailored to their needs.

Read more about Antonio Aponte's story here.


Mott Hall Bridges Academy principal, Nadia López of Brooklyn, NY was February's recipient of the Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award winner. Nadia's dedication to her students' education encouraged an online fundraising campaign to raise money for an informative school trip to Harvard University that raised over $1 million, reaching the fundraising goal of $100,000 in just 45 minutes.

Read more about Nadia López's story here.


Barbara Strong, of Rock Hill, NY was January's Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award recipient for establishing the Allyson Whitney Foundation - a non-profit organization that empowers and fights for the interests of young adults with rare cancers.

Read more about Barbara Strong's story here.


Bruce Boyle Received the 2014 Surfers' Environmental Alliance “Friend of the Paddle” Award.

Bruce Boyle, of Sea Girt, NJ was December's Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award recipient for his dedication with keeping the New York waters safe and his contributions to numerous environmental charitable events.

Read more about Bruce Boyle's story here.


Keith Caputo, of Center Moriches, NY was honored as November's Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award recipient for his fundraising efforts and warm support for people throughout his Long Island community.

Read more about Keith Caputo's story here.


Felipe Lopez of Santiago, Dominican Republic, was the recipient of the Sweetwater Clifton "City Spirit" Award for the month of October for his continuous work helping to bring basketball efforts to the five boroughs.

Read more about Felipe Lopez's story here.