Rahm Asks Chicagoans to Donate to Youth Hoops Program

By Emily Morris on February 19, 2013 11:07am | Updated on February 19, 2013 12:01pm

 Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former NBA star Isiah Thomas, a Chicago West Side native, announced an expansion of the Windy City Hoops program.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and former NBA star Isiah Thomas, a Chicago West Side native, announced an expansion of the Windy City Hoops program.
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Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images/Mike Powell

CHICAGO — Mayor Rahm Emanuel and NBA star Isiah Thomas hope to score a slam dunk by helping provide more safe havens for Chicago youths.

The mayor joined the Chicago Park District and Basketball Hall of Famer Thomas Tuesday in announcing an expansion of the city's teen basketball leagues with the Windy City Hoops program, which will provide additional leagues for kids and young adults year-round.

Emanuel said Chicagoans everywhere need to chip in and help make it happen.

The mayor said he hopes to raise $480,000 to add the program at 10 parks, including locations in Austin, East Garfield Park, Englewood, Kenwood, North Lawndale, Rogers Park, Roseland and Woodlawn. The city hopes to raise the money in two months, Emanuel said.

Anyone who wants to contribute can visit the Windy City Hoops' Indiegogo page to donate. The crowdsourcing site lets patrons know what their donation scores for the program. For example, $50 nets enough trophies for a team of 10 kids, while $150 pays for an assistant coach for a week, according to the site.

The funding will help provide new year-round teen basketball leagues open to up to 3,200 teens ages 13 to 17, Emanuel said. The expansion would double the number of hours of teen basketball programming provided by the Chicago Park District. Previously, the Park District offered six-week summer hoops programs.

The leagues, to begin in March, would operate 7-10 p.m. Fridays and 5-10 p.m. on Saturdays.

“For me, as a child in Chicago, basketball was a way that I could enjoy myself, make friends, stay safe and obtain the education I needed to succeed in life," said Thomas, a North Lawndale native and longtime star for the Detroit Pistons. “I am happy to be involved with a program that will allow many others the same valuable opportunities that I had."

The program builds on current initiatives for kids, such as the Becoming a Man mentorship program, Emanuel said.

The Park District hopes to include the following parks in the expansion:

  • Pottawatomie (Rogers Park)
  • Amundsen (Austin)
  • Columbus (Austin)
  • Garfield (East Garfield Park)
  • Franklin (North Lawndale)
  • Kennicott (Kenwood)
  • Jackson (Woodlawn)
  • Ogden (Englewood)
  • Hamilton (Englewood)
  • Fernwood (Roseland)

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