As part of NBA’s 75th anniversary, MLSE Foundation, along with the Toronto Raptors, is partnering with the Sheguiandah First Nation, an Anishinaabe First Nation, on Manitoulin Island. Together, they will design and build a new outdoor basketball court for the community.

‘Cause when MLSE Foundation says that they want equitable sport (and thereby, growth) opportunities for youth regardless of their racial and socio-economic background, you better believe it. Now this time they’re doing it by giving Sheguiandah First Nation an upgraded basketball court. 

“Equity is the heart and soul of our work. We invest in the next generation by creating access as well as building and empowering youth. We create spaces, give to sustainable programs and deliver best-in-class sport programs,” says Kendra Kerr, manager of Partnerships and Projects, MLSE Foundation. 

“Our goal is to provide the platform, tools, resources, and skills required to empower young people to determine what their future looks like.”

raptors first nations
Photo via Toronto Raptors/MLSE

This isn’t the first time that the charity has developed a community space, or supported underrepresented youth in sports.

Over the last decade, MLSE Foundation has been refurbishing community sports spaces as a key pillar of its investment strategy.. The primary goal is to give the youth, in particular, and the community, access to state-of-the-art athletic facilities and to inspire and motivate these youth to discover the power of sport. 

To jog your memory, MLSE Foundation is the official charity of Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC, and Toronto Argos. The charitable foundation has been running programs and inspiring youth facing barriers for over a decade. But they further broadened the charity’s scope with their Change the Game campaign, launched in February 2021.

Year after year, MLSE Foundation extends an open call for grant applications. From there, a diverse external selection committee evaluates each application, recommending impactful programs for each. 

“Organizations can apply for up to $50,000 in funding, and they have up to three years to spend those funds. We foster those relationships for a long time so that when they leave our funding ecosystem, they are better positioned to get funding from other organizations and increase the effectiveness and impact of their programming approach. We see ourselves being not only funders but also connectors of community to see those organizations thrive and grow through our funding,” says Kerr.

So with the belief that sports can change lives, it’s clear that MLSE Foundation focuses on more than just technical gaming skills. The focus now is on overall skill development for youth to have an opportunity to grow on a personal, academic, and professional level. 

If you want to know more about the initiative or if you wish to contribute to it, head over to MLSE Foundation’s website!