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Learn Fresh helps students from NBA Math Hoops attend 2023 Draft

The non-profit group has helped students learn fundamental math skills through the game of basketball since 2013. 

Students from NBA Math Hoops attended the 2023 NBA Draft as part of their trip to New York City.

In late June, a group of 24 students from the U.S. and Australia had the opportunity to attend the 2023 NBA Math Hoops Global Championship. The students and their families received an all-expenses paid trip to New York for the two-day event, which included a visit to the Liberty Science Center, a tour of Madison Square Garden and a NBA Math Hoops board game competition. 

Learn Fresh, an international, educational non-profit group, aims to enhance and improve students’ STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) achievement through sports. The group has worked with teams and organizations to help students learn fundamental math skills through the game of basketball since 2013. 

Learn Fresh utilizes community, play, and in-depth evaluation to achieve academic goals through programs like NBA Math Hoops, MLB Players STEM League and STEM Goals, all of which engage students from diverse backgrounds and experiences. By leveraging the power of sports, the Learn Fresh team makes math more exciting and engaging for students in the U.S., Australia, South Africa.

“The best part about our 10-year journey is that we have gone from being a collection of people, to a 20 person staff this summer,” said CEO and co-founder of Learn Fresh Nick Monzi. “And for the first time, this event includes students from outside the U.S., a major milestone in the growth of the NBA Math Hoops program.”

NBA Math Hoops is an all-encompassing community initiative that includes a basketball board game, mobile application and curriculum. It enables students to acquire core math and social-emotional skills by engaging with the game of basketball.  

It also has tangible and effective results. An assessment of over 4,000 NBA Math Hoops participants measured 28% gains in math proficiency and a 21% uptick in math skills related to stats and data analysis in 2020. Studies show that program participants are 30% more likely to report an increase in key attributes like leadership, grit and resilience. And it goes beyond math, too, as students learn valuable life and social skills. 

“Being able to have such a big impact with basketball off the court means something,” said Monzi. “Having the data to show that what we are doing is working while continuing to impact families and educate youth in a fun way is priceless,” he continues. 

To be eligible to apply for the Global Championship, students need to participate in NBA Math Hoops by playing at least 25 games and finishing 10 curriculum units throughout the program season. Participants must also exhibit ample improvement throughout the program, show good sportsmanship and demonstrate an ability to overcome challenges both in and out of the classroom.

To top off the Math Hoops Global Championship, the group attended the NBA Draft – all thanks to the work of Learn Fresh.

Students attended the pre-ceremonial red carpet and watched as NBA prospects strutted their Draft-night looks. Many were amazed at the sight of 7-foot-5 Victor Wembanyama and began chanting “Wemby” repeatedly to get the young star’s attention. 

“This moment is something special for these kids,” said Brie Jackson, Manager of Program Events for Learn Fresh. “Coming from areas with predominantly low income, this experience is once in a lifetime for some. This is something they will never forget.” 

Following the Draft night was the NBA Math Hoops Championship. The game showcased the actual performance statistics and identities of NBA and WNBA players, creating a thrilling, culturally relevant approach to captivate students of all backgrounds. Students drafted a team of NBA and WNBA players, and competed individually, or in teams of two to solve quick math problems and score points. The competition replicated the game of basketball as teams quickly rotate from offense to defense in an organized setting.

The students went head-to-head in an elimination style tournament. As the final game commenced, parents surrounded the table and fellow students cheered on the last two teams. 

At the conclusion of the competition, participants received a personalized gift from Learn Fresh as well as a participation award for their efforts. These gifts ranged from team signed basketballs, to signed special edition shoes and jerseys. 

Learn Fresh also announced the launch of their new alumni scholarship, which offers former participants a chance to earn a scholarship upon graduating from high school – setting up young scholars for a future of lifelong success.