NBA Foundation Awards Grant to Thunder Fellows

TULSA, Okla., Dec. 7, 2021 – The NBA Foundation has selected the Thunder Fellows program as a grant recipient during the league’s Season of Giving, a five-week celebration during the holiday season when the NBA family gives back by supporting and uplifting youth, families, and organizations across the country. In total, the foundation awarded $11 million in grants to 38 nonprofit organizations to drive economic empowerment for Black youth.

“Thunder Fellows is designed to combat the prevalent opportunity gap between Black students and careers in data and analytics,” said Cedric Ikpo, Thunder Fellows Executive Director. “Through unique hands-on experiences and ongoing professional mentorship, the program develops the skills critical to help these students realize their full potential. This generous gift will help us further our mission and establish a diverse talent pipeline to meaningful careers for the next wave of Black leaders.”

Founded by the Oklahoma City Thunder and leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA), Thunder Fellows after school program consists of 26 Black ninth and 10th grade students from 11 schools in the Tulsa area.

“We are grateful to the NBA Foundation as this grant not only recognizes the work that is being done now at Thunder Fellows, but also for what is ahead for the program and its students,” said Sam Presti, Oklahoma City Thunder Executive Vice President and General Manager. “When we embarked on this program, we spoke openly about the need to think big but build small to achieve sustainable progress. The backing and buy-in from the NBA Foundation just one year into our strategic vision is a validation of our commitment and long-range approach to addressing these challenges.”

“We have a long-term vision for the Thunder Fellows program and are thrilled that the NBA Foundation shares our mission to create lucrative career opportunities for Black students in sports and entertainment,” said Mike Johnson, Executive, CAA Brand Consulting. “We are tremendously appreciative for their support and are excited about what the future holds in store for the program.”

This marks the NBA Foundation’s fourth and most-awarded grant round to date. The grants aim to enhance the work of national and local organizations in alignment with the NBA Foundation’s mission to drive economic opportunity in the Black community through employment and career development.

“As we near the conclusion of the NBA Foundation’s first year of grant-making, we’re excited to announce our latest round of awards to 38 new, deserving non-profit organizations,” said Greg Taylor, NBA Foundation Executive Director.  “We are confident that our support will create short- and long-term advancement opportunities for these organizations and the communities that they serve.”

To date, the NBA Foundation has awarded 78 grants, totaling $22 million to nonprofit organizations.