The Chris Paul Family Foundation recently hosted his Club 61 program in Los Angeles in August. Club 61 is a leadership alliance created by NBA star Chris Paul, the name was inspired by the night he scored 61 points during a high school basketball game to honor the life of his 61-year-old grandfather.
The alliance includes nonprofit organizations from the cities that Paul played basketball for: the Brotherhood Crusade and College Track of Los Angeles, Jump N For The Future of New Orleans, Traid Cultural Arts-Queen Juneteenth and the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of North Carolina of Winston Salem and Project Alpha of Phoenix.
Five youth from each organization traveled to and stayed on the UCLA campus to attend this four-day program.
“I think exposure is key, a lot of times we’re stuck inside our communities,” Paul said. “Getting out here, getting this exposure … getting that at somewhat of an early age, I think it’s invaluable.”
Celebrity trainer Jeanette Jenkins facilitated morning yoga and meditation sessions, Rosecrans Ventures founder Halleemah Nash taught the youth about networking. Award-winning TV show host Angela Rye taught them about community service and activism; the youth also learned about financial leadership through John McMichael of J.P. Morgan Private Bank.
Brotherhood Crusade student De’ontay Everett learned from Paul the importance of having networking skills.
“I later found out that day that networking was one of the most greatest skills that humans can have,” Everett said. “I’m going to keep that forever.”
The youth also took a tour of the UCLA campus and visited the Grammy Museum and the Tupac Shakur Museum. They also participated in a community service project with the non-profit Blessings in a Backpack. It was the first time College Track student Giselle Orozco visited the two museums.
“I learned so much from here. I had a great experience because the connections I made here with people, the things I learned, how to build relationships, how to be financially stable,” Orozco said. “I’m really gonna miss the people that I came here with …I would definitely recommend it to anybody.”
The main principles of Club 61 make up the acronym PRIDE: Purpose, Respect, Integrity, Discipline, and Excellence. Paul noted how his grandfather had those qualities; he owned the first Black-owned service station in North Carolina.
Paul hopes that the participants not only apply the lessons they learned from Club 61 to their lives but spread the information to their families and friends in their hometowns. He also wants the youth to know that there are people that will aid them when life gets hard and they have love and support.
“A lot of times when kids grow up in the hood, everybody tells them what they can’t do and what they can’t be,” Paul said. “We just want them to understand that there’s a community, there are people, there are resources and you got to believe.”
For more information about Club 61, please visit https://www.chrispaulfamilyfoundation.org/club61