The NBA Foundation recently celebrated its first anniversary, announcing 22 new grants totaling $6M. To complete a series of four spotlights on grant recipients, learn more about the TEAM Inc. mission from Founder Anwar McQueen.
What are your organization’s mission and goals?
Anwar McQueen: We’re really working to leverage students love of basketball and the NBA to teach STEM skills on a video and analytics platform used by every NBA and WNBA team. We offer students the ability to have unprecedented access to world-class technology and an opportunity to get exposure to the data side of both leagues. We really focus on exposing underrepresented youth to technology and career pathways in the sports industry.
What have been some highlights working with NBA Foundation so far?
First and foremost, we’ve really appreciated the support from the NBA and the recognition that we’re the only non-profit working closely with the technology used by every NBA team. We have a recruitment track record with workforce development internships and pipelines. We hit a home run with their support and recognition as it helped to amplify the work that has been done and will continue to do.
How would expanding economic opportunity for Black youth affect your community and the nation more broadly?
One of the major hurdles to greater diversity in the NBA, WNBA, G League and even corporate America is a lack of pathways for underrepresented youth and the existence of those pipelines to hire diverse talent. We aim to create those pathways and pipelines to change the future. A lot of young people, regardless of socio-economic status, are really excited about sports. There are so many opportunities in the sports industry that have nothing to do with playing. I really try to leverage that focus because a lot of times the underrepresented communities are so focused on the physical development of young people to reach those industry-level jobs and it’s a unique opportunity because of the exposure piece of how those career pathways can lead to upward mobility, viability and sustainability.
What’s the coolest thing that’s in the curriculum?
Every class we teach, I learn something new from the students. I think the ‘wow’ factor is when we get into the data filtering aspect of the program. We can get to that in a workshop or any of our programs. They can see in a tangible example the people they see on TV through project-based programs and can create these dashboards that show how to tell a story about the outcome of a game. Like why the Warriors are successful.
What is one thing you hope that everyone who cares about the future of Black youth know?
I believe we need to create more pathways for Black youth and simultaneously create more pipelines for corporations to find them. That’s what you have to do to bring them together. We’re just embarking on this journey and we need to start now to make those changes. We have a tangible program that excites kids about technology and has academic components but also workforce development. We’re excited to see high school students come in, complete our program, develop these skills and then exceed minimum wage for wages they can command because they have the skillset.