NBA Foundation Awards Seven Grants to Nonprofits Supporting Black Communities, Including Dallas’ Marcus Graham Project

The Marcus Graham Project will use the money to expand its training, mentorship, and professional development programs for talent of color in media, advertising, and sports marketing.

The Marcus Graham Project, a nonprofit dedicated to identifying, exposing, mentoring, and training ethnically diverse men and women in all aspects of the media industry, has been awarded a monumental grant from the NBA Foundation. 

To drive economic empowerment in Black communities, the Foundation announced that a total of $2 million in inaugural grants would be given to seven organizations across the country. The funding will go to employment and career advancement in an effort to increase education and access in Black communities while growing the organizations.

Each recipient of the inaugural grants align with the Foundation’s mission to providing skills training, mentorship, coaching, and pipeline development to Black communities across the U.S. and Canada. In addition to The Marcus Graham Project, the chosen orgs are: exalt, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, Operation DREAM, TEAM Inc., The Knowledge House, and the Youth Empowerment Project.

The Marcus Graham Project (MGP) will use its funding to improve and expand on development opportunities for talent of color. That includes its iCR8 programs, which are designed to provide diverse aspirants in the marketing and media to solidify careers within the industry.

The national nonprofit and its network of diverse professionals aim to develop the next generation of leaders in advertising, media, and marketing. Long term, the goal is to develop a viable pool of talent and leadership within the industry. 

“The advertising, media and marketing industry will not reflect the rich racial diversity found in the U.S. until the year 2079, at the current rate of hiring, retention, and promotion,” Larry Yarrell, co-founder of Marcus Graham Project, said in a statement. “Minority voices are often the drivers of culture, and we desperately need them in rooms where decisions are made.”

According to Yarrell, the Foundation’s grant allows MGP to invest more in developing the media industry’s future game-changers. He hopes the companies and organizations that have made commitments to advancing economic justice and equality for Black Americans will join in expanding these efforts.

Since founding in 2005, MGP has impacted more than 2,500 members and alumni internationally. But, with the NBA Foundation grant, the nonprofit said it now has the tools to develop the careers of more than 1,500 additional aspiring marketing and media professionals.

The grant is the first of what will be a $5 million capacity-building campaign for MGP’s expansion across North America.

“The Cavs are extremely proud of the NBA Foundation’s decision to make the Marcus Graham Project one of its inaugural grantees,” Corey James, the Cleveland Cavaliers director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement, said. “This speaks volumes to the continued impact of MGP since our introduction and first sports marketing workshop during the 2014-15 NBA season. Since then, we’ve continued to use our platform to amplify MGP’s mission and couldn’t be more pleased to see these fruits of the relationship.”

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