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The NBA Foundation has chosen the initial seven recipients of grants from the newly created group, the first step toward what the league has promised will be at least US$300-million in money designed to spur additional economic empowerment in Black communities.

Those first grants, announced Thursday, totalled US$2-million. They went to the following groups: exalt, Management Leadership for Tomorrow, Marcus Graham Project, Operation Dream, the Knowledge House, TEAM Inc. and the Youth Empowerment Project.

Plans to create the NBA Foundation began in June and were finalized by the NBA’s board of governors and the National Basketball Players Association in early August. Each of the NBA’s 30 governors must commit US$1-million in each of the next 10 years to the foundation.

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Thursday’s seven grant recipients focus on matters such as criminal justice system avoidance for youth; professional job coaching; increasing diversity in media; mentoring and more.

The foundation has also selected Greg Taylor as its first executive director. Taylor will assume the role Jan. 4 after more than seven years with the NBA, most recently serving as the league’s senior vice-president of player development.

The foundation’s board includes NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan, New Orleans Pelicans owner Gayle Benson, Atlanta Hawks principal owner Tony Ressler, NBA board of governors chairman Larry Tanenbaum from the Toronto Raptors, NBPA executive director Michele Roberts, Philadelphia forward Tobias Harris and Sacramento forward Harrison Barnes. They were selected in October, and it took just more than two months for the first grants to become reality.

The foundation is separate from the league’s newly created social-justice coalition, which was created after the Milwaukee Bucks led a leaguewide stoppage of the NBA playoffs in August in response to the shooting of a Black man by police in Kenosha, Wisc., and other similar incidents that sparked national outrage this year. The league formed the National Basketball Social Justice Coalition last month, has seated a board that includes team governors, coaches, players and executives and met for the first time earlier this month.

That coalition focuses on voting access and criminal justice reform.

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