More than ever before, professional athletes have committed themselves to serving as catalysts for change. And while we’ve seen superstars like LeBron James launch voting initiatives, or rookies like Grant Williams create a mentorship program for Black and Brown youth, Houston Rockets forward Robert Covington and former NBA star Luol Deng are looking to do their part by partnering with entrepreneur David Gross to revitalize neighborhoods in Chicago.
From the National Basketball Players Association:
Own Our Own, an inner-city focused real estate fund, today announces its first Chicago-based project in partnership with Houston Rockets forward Robert Covington and former Chicago Bull and 2-time All-Star Luol Deng. Former players Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Matt Barnes are also investor-partners. The impact investment project aims to transform a South Side of Chicago neighborhood through an affordable housing and community development initiative that will improve quality of life through increased public safety and access to critical social services.
According to the NBPA, this multi-phase project will enhance safety measures, build community gardens, renovate spaces for community resources and provide other improvements for a 143-unit multifamily property in the West Pullman neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. This will also include a community library, a dedicated STEM facility and space for residents to tend to their health and wellness.
“We understand the challenges that long-term underinvestment in many black communities and cities has created: intergenerational poverty and trauma, violence, and health and educational gaps. And we’re not afraid of them,” David Gross, Own Our Own founder and CEO, said in a statement. “We want to help define a new normal of concentrated, sustained investment in inner-city communities, led by people who care deeply about them.”
Own Our Own is the real estate investment arm of Our Opportunity, which prides itself on empowering Black communities with sustainable economic growth. By investing in undervalued inner-city neighborhoods and providing access to safe and affordable housing to local residents, Own Our Own works in concert with Our Opportunity to “support the broader ecosystem of critical services needed to build and sustain healthy communities.”
In contributing to this project, the NBPA Foundation will provide funding for sports initiatives that focus on fitness and mentorship opportunities, while the Chicago Urban League will provide its renowned education programming.
“As a union representing arguably the greatest concentration of Black male wealth and cultural influence, it’s both heartening and timely to see our players proactively invest in community impact, and have an opportunity to directly support their endeavors,” Sherrie Deans, Executive Director of the NBPA Foundation and Acting COO of the NBPA, said in a statement. “Through Own Our Own, our players are investing in integrated solutions to community building that will seek to foster thriving and holistic communities. We are excited to be a part of the effort.”
To learn more about Own Our Own, you can visit their website here.