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NBA Foundation grantee spotlight: CodeCrew

In the first of four spotlight series, learn more about CodeCrew’s mission from Executive Director, Meka Egwuekwe.

The NBA Foundation recently celebrated its first anniversary, announcing 22 new grants totaling $6 million. In the first of a series of four spotlights on grant recipients, learn more about CodeCrew’s mission from Executive Director, Meka Egwuekwe.

What are your organization’s mission and goals?

Meka Egwuekwe: Our mission is to bring quality computer science to kids and adults. We want kids to have access to college career entrepreneurship computer science. We want them to see themselves as tech producers. For adults, we want them to have access to careers as tech producers in the form of a coding boot camp that trains them in six months to become entry level software engineers, so they can make a $50,000-plus annual salary. We do that with a strong focus on under-represented groups.

What have been some highlights working with NBA Foundation so far?

Being able to associate what we do with the NBA, has helped us with recruitment, and it has gotten the attention of others who say, “The NBA believes in this group.” People who may have been on the fence are recognizing we’re serious about delivering the talent our city and country needs.

How does expanding economic opportunity effect your company and community?

In Memphis, the No. 1 problem here is poverty. Wages are low. People need an opportunity to get plugged into careers that pay them better, have upside and can be a career — not just a job. Our city is majority African-American. If we’re going to achieve the level of prosperity that we want to as a city, we’ve got to focus intently on building a larger, stronger Black middle-class. To borrow an NBA analogy, we need to dig deeper into our bench if we want to be competitive.

What is one thing you think people should know about the future of Black youth?

Anyone who cares about the future of Black youth needs to know we have a society that has fallen short in providing for Black youth. People need to know that the stereotypes out there about diverse, young groups are not true. From our program, there are students who just need to be plugged into an opportunity. If they’re given that opportunity, they’ll step in and do the rest.

What kind of connection do you have with the NBA?

Our very founding is rooted in the NBA, as an organization. CodeCrew’s very first funder was the Memphis Grizzlies Foundation. I say all the time, every time Ja Morant dunks the ball or LeBron James makes a sensational pass, kids and adults are learning to code as a direct result of that. People often overlook the impact sports can have in the greater community. To think, there’ll be more than a million-dollar economic impact on Memphis from the donation we’ve received from the NBA Foundation … that’s one of many examples we love to trumpet.