DEVEAN GEORGE

Devean George Teams Up with Kevin Garnett on North Minneapolis Affordable Housing Project

The first player ever from a Division III school to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft, Devean George is still defying expectations nearly 20 years later. With three NBA championships under his belt as a former Laker, one might assume George continued his post-NBA career in sports. But you know what they say about assuming...

After his NBA career came to a close in 2010, George embarked on a new chapter back in his hometown of North Minneapolis. With an impressive resume of charitable endeavors throughout his 11-year NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, and Golden State Warriors, George decided to take his passion for philanthropy back to the community that raised him, educated him, and helped propel him to basketball stardom at Augsburg College in Downtown Minneapolis.

MBK 2017-02-01 UCLA AT WASHINGTON ST.18_16_40_01.Still001_0.jpg

With a strong interest in community development, George established George Group North, a real estate company specializing in multi-family residential development, mixed-use projects, redevelopment, and management. In conjunction, he founded its charitable subsidiary, Building Blocks, a nonprofit organization focused on mentorship programming, affordable housing, and sustainable community development.   

With several successful projects completed, including The Commons at Penn, a 45 unit mixed-use green apartment building located just blocks from where he grew up and where his father still lives, George is gearing up for his next undertaking. For his upcoming project, he’ll be teaming up with former Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Garnett and a South Carolina real estate firm to construct a 64-unit affordable housing apartment complex nearby George’s other properties.

Like George, Garnett is committed to rebuilding communities close to his heart. Garnett even named his company OBF Real Estate LLC, short for Official Block Family, after his childhood friends in South Carolina. Other athletes are investing in economic development around the country as well, including NFL players Ted Ginn and Roman Harper who are currently working on a building in New Orleans.

SPORTS_BBA-TWINS-YANKEES_67_MS_46658968.JPG
NBA_VR_GettyImages-614484510.jpg

Outside his real estate work, George actually spends a majority of his time in Los Angeles raising his young sons. Nevertheless, for the week or two each month when he’s not taking his sons to school or coaching their teams, you can find him with his North Minneapolis family rebuilding and revitalizing communities one block at a time.

Stay up to date with Devean!

EKPE UDOH

Ekpe Udoh Launches Farm in Oklahoma to Increase Healthy Food Access

Farming and basketball are not typically two professions mentioned in the same sentence. However, NBA veteran Ekpe Udoh is shattering all conventions with his new hydroponic urban farm in his hometown of Oklahoma City. In 2018, Udoh launched LGR Farms, an extension of his Let’s Get Right (LGR) foundation established in 2015.

Although Udoh and LGR have been sponsoring philanthropic activities for several years, including basketball camps, book clubs, and turkey giveaways, Udoh has been literally and figuratively planting seeds for his new sustainable agriculture enterprise all the while. Now a farming expert, Udoh is ready to tackle malnutrition in low-income neighborhoods.

Raised by native Nigerian parents accustomed to growing their own food, Udoh is a passionate advocate for clean eating. Therefore, when he discovered how severely limited and unaffordable healthy food options are for those living in marginalized communities, he decided to do something about it.

Opened in May 2018, LGR Farms provides affordable fresh produce free of herbicides and pesticides to local inner-city communities, in addition to restaurants, grocery stores, public schools, and other underserved populations. The farm boasts over fifty vegetable varieties, including leafy greens like Swiss chard, collard greens, arugula, butterhead lettuce, romaine, and kale.

Russell's+Reading+Room.jpg

As impressive as the farm’s mission is its high-tech operating system. Nearly all of the farm’s operations are controlled by an app. Produce grows vertically inside a 40 foot recycled shipping container using filtered water instead of soil—hence the term hydroponic. Amazingly, the farm’s footprint occupies just an acre and a half yet can turn over new crop yields every four to six weeks, even during winter.

With a goal of eventually operating five shipping containers and producing 500 heads of lettuce per week, Udoh evidently has big plans for his career after basketball. A strong believer in the medicinal power of nutrient-dense food, Udoh is on a mission to help people live life to the fullest, particularly those living in underserved areas in his home city. In short, he says he simply wants to "keep people dancing and eating salads."

Stay up to date with Ekpe!
 

Chris Long

Chris Long Earns Award for Outstanding Public Service in Professional Sports

Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long earned himself a trip to Washington D.C recently. Needless to say, the invitation didn’t come from the White House. Instead, the invitation came from the Jefferson Awards Foundation, a prestigious organization dedicated to celebrating public service and volunteerism. The foundation invited Long to their ceremony to honor him as the recipient of their Outstanding Public Service in Professional Sports award.

An outspoken advocate on social justice issues with an extensive philanthropic track record, Long is committed to using his platform to bring positive change to marginalized populations around the world. In 2015, Long started the Chris Long Foundation as a way to sustainably support his charitable efforts, such as his “Waterboys” clean water initiative in Tanzania. Since launching the initiative, the foundation has helped build 31 water wells and raised $1.7 million, resulting in clean water for 111,000 Tanzanians. 

Long also donated his entire $1,000,000 salary this past season to charitable causes as a show of gratitude for his 10th season in the NFL. He directed a portion of the funds to a scholarship program at his former high school in Charlottesville, VA. He then donated his last ten game checks, plus another $1.3 million he raised from fans and corporations through a matching contribution campaign, to education initiatives in Philadelphia, Boston, and St. Louis.

NFL-Mock-Draft-2016.jpg
SPORTS_BBA-TWINS-YANKEES_67_MS_46658968.JPG
image002_0.jpg

This year, Long also received the 2018 Byron “Whizzer” White Community MVP award from the NFL Players Association (NFLPA). As part of the award, the NFLPA donated $100,000 to the Chris Long Foundation in support of his clean water and youth initiatives as well as the foundation’s efforts around care for veterans, active military and the homeless.

In addition to monetary contributions, Long also volunteers his time in creative and impactful ways. While playing for the St. Louis Rams, he and teammate William Hayes spent 24 hours living on the street and documenting their experience in an effort to bring a deeper awareness to the issues faced by homeless individuals and families.

Long is also a social activist, recently joining teammates Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod to discuss bail reform at a public defenders meeting in Philadelphia. The group talked about promising bail reform models from cities nationwide and ways that professional athletes can be allies in advancing effective policy reform.

Now a two-time Super Bowl champ, Long is making the most of his broadening influence to generate positive social impact locally, nationally, and around the globe.

Stay up to date with Chris!