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NBA Foundation grantee spotlight: The Collective Blueprint

In the second of four spotlight series, learn more about The Collective Blueprint’s mission from Cofounder & CEO, Sarah Lockridge-Steckel.

The NBA Foundation recently celebrated its first anniversary, announcing 22 new grants totaling $6M. In the second of a series of four spotlights on grant recipients, learn more about The Collective Blueprint’s mission from Cofounder & CEO, Sarah Lockridge-Steckel.

What are your organization’s mission and goals?

Sarah Lockridge-Steckel: The mission of The Collective Blueprint is to increase socioeconomic mobility and opportunity for young adults out of school – and out of work – by building pathways to thriving careers. We’re creating pathways for young adults to get into in-demand industries where they can earn a living wage. We’re also working to remove barriers in our city and are trying to make it easier for young adults to get to upward mobility.

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

This opportunity has allowed us to develop and grow toward higher-skilled jobs. It’s exciting for me to listen to a group of young adults who weren’t even thinking about software engineering, but now see coding as a pathway for them where they could earn $45,000+ a year coming right out. It’s powerful, on the financial side, to see an opportunity to provide scholarships, but it also builds a space where we can collaborate and expand the work we’ve been doing.

How does expanding economic opportunity effect your company and community?

Locally, we want to have a city where every young adult has the chance to experience social mobility. To get there, we must have investments like this, and we must build pathways for people to increase their earnings and build wealth. When we don’t have those things, you deal with 40,000 young adults who are out of work and out of school. I hope many young adults can go to college, but if you can’t, you should still be able to continue your education in other forms, still be able to earn enough to take care of your family and reach your goals.

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

It’s important to note that our young adults really want to get to opportunity. Sometimes people talk about social issues or young people not being engaged… that’s not the case. All the young adults we talk to want to do different things, but they face tangible barriers trying to get to the next steps of life.

What’s a special moment you’ve encountered during your time with Collective Blueprint?

A young adult sat next to me at church, and after talking, I asked, “What all are you up to?” He said, “I’m actually in this really amazing program called the Code Collective.” It happened to be one of the young adults in our program who I had Zoomed with but hadn’t had the opportunity to meet in person. He was talking about the incredible opportunity and how excited he was to get into coding. His 15-year-old brother was there listening to him talk about that.

I think what was powerful is that it’s not just about that young man and his goals, but also the impact it could have on his family and everyone else around him.