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Young girl and police officer high five in a basketball court

The YMCA of Greater Cleveland launched the RISE program at its West Park Family YMCA branch in Cleveland on April 17. RISE is the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Under Armour award-winning Building Bridges Through Basketball program, which fosters a national dialogue and provides education to actively address issues of race and bias and improve relations between members of law enforcement and the diverse communities they serve. The YMCA of Greater Cleveland was selected for the program last year.

The West Park program will include seven police officers and up to 30 young people.

Building Bridges Through Basketball, which first began as a pilot program at NBA All-Star 2017 in New Orleans through a collaboration between the NBA and RISE, unites middle and high school youth with local officers to develop skills on and off the court. The program creates space for them to engage in honest conversations that help break barriers, build trust and create pathways for positive communication.

Through RISE’s experiential learning curriculum, participants cover topics such as identity, bias, privilege, racism and leadership. Officers and youth have the chance to hear new perspectives, develop trusting relationships and discuss the challenges they face. They also come to understand their collective responsibility to create change and build stronger communities.

Under Armour began its support of Building Bridges Through Basketball in 2018 through programs in Chicago and Los Angeles.

  • “Racism exists and impacts every part of our society, but throughout history sports and especially the game of basketball has been a powerful vehicle for inspiring change on issues of race and injustice," said RISE CEO Diahann Billings-Burford. "The fastest and most impactful change can often come at the interpersonal level, and with this national expansion, Building Bridges Through Basketball will be able to bring together more diverse communities and the law enforcement serving them. Equipping youth and officers with the tools to have these difficult conversations together can not only create shifts in knowledge and attitudes, but also change behaviors that lead to systemic change.”
  • “The NBA community is excited to bring Building Bridges Through Basketball to the Bay Area and beyond, continuing our work with RISE and Under Armour to serve the cities where we work and play,” said NBA Head of Social Responsibility Todd Jacobson. “This program provides an important forum to help increase trust between law enforcement and young people which is an essential piece to building safer, healthier, and stronger communities.”
  • “At Under Armour, we are committed to increasing access to sport through programs like Building Bridges Through Basketball because we know sport is so much more than a game,” said Under Armour Director of Global Philanthropy Flynn Burch. “It teaches us to be teammates and leaders, to bounce back and never back down, and push beyond our limits. We believe that by connecting youth and members of law enforcement, we will help foster important conversations and drive much-needed change.”

“We are delighted to have been chosen as the Greater Cleveland partner for the Building Bridges Through Basketball program,” stated Delinda Hupka, Associate Executive Director at the West Park branch of the YMCA of Greater Cleveland. “The Y is ideally suited to bring its expertise and resources to fully realize the program’s ideals of establishing and nourishing relationships between young people in our area and local police officers. We are excited to lead this effort in Greater Cleveland.”