What started as a modest family project, ten years ago in Netanya, Israel, has developed into an impactful, international program empowering at-risk youth through the sport of basketball.
The program’s initial concept was simple – provide the impoverished children of Netanya with free tickets to the division II, professional basketball team’s home games. The goal was to engage the entire community, leaving no child behind, including those who could not afford tickets, in addition to creating a lasting fan base for the Netanya basketball club.
The ticket program was successful, but we knew we could and needed to do more for the community. We came across a news article about a great individual, David Lasday, who was running a basketball program in Washington, D.C. We asked Lasday to join our team. He agreed and then began, what is now, our weekly Hoops For Kids program. He connected with the basketball team, the city, and after-school centers to start a program that would create an impact for the children we worked with. We also realized incorporating the professional basketball team, and their respective players, was an essential part of the process, specifically because of our intended demographic. The majority of at-risk youth in Netanya are comprised of first-generation Ethiopian immigrants, living in poverty, and have issues integrating into society. Many do not have role models, let alone role models who look like them (as Israel is a predominantly white population.) When our participants receive the opportunity to be mentored by the professional basketball players through the program, it is typically the first time they see someone that looks like them in a professional and successful arena and thus, our slogan “One City, One Family, One Team” emerged.
After two years of our mentoring program, and with the success of our program in Netanya, we knew we had to take Hoops for Kids to other cities in Israel. Over the course of time, we made solid relationships with different teams among different cities in Israel and expanded our programming to reach more at-risk children through informally teaching life skills during our basketball clinics. During the first year, Hoops for Kids successfully expanded into Katzrine, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Tel Aviv.
Realizing our program’s rising success, we decided to partner with TAG International to bring our program to at-risk children in third-world countries. TAG International specializes in adapting Israeli programs to fit the needs of third-world communities. TAG partnered with SlumsDunk to bring our program to Nairobi, Kenya, started by professional basketball player Bruno Cerella, to find the children to work with and partners on the ground. The program was a huge success - impacting over 1,200 kids in the first year. With that momentum behind us, we expanded yet again into Kisumu, Kenya. The TAG International HFK program focuses on teaching life skills relevant to the kids they work with. Those skills included; water conservation, safe sex, and AIDS prevention.
In August of 2016, with the guidance of TAG, we introduced our Israeli coaches and kids to the Hoops for Kids Playbook focusing on teaching one life skill each month. The life skills we focus on are meant to help our kids both on and off the court. Our ultimate vision and goal is to provide at-risk children, all over the world, with the tools they need to break the chains of global poverty by empowering them with life skills through the sport of basketball. Through the love of the game, and our profound devotion to the success of future generations, Hoops for Kids intends to expand its reach and provide children with the space to flourish. Our program seeks to actively move toward the long-term goal of expanding, working with more professional teams, and developing in to the NBA Cares of the world, helping as many at-risk youth as possible.
Hoops For Kids is an international program serving the at-risk youth community and aims to teach essential life skills to support children in becoming healthy, successful, and community-oriented individuals through the sport of basketball. Our goal is to expand our program across the globe so that nearly every community with a professional basketball team has access to our program.