By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA
(NNPA) – NBA superstar Stephen Curry and his philanthropic partner and wife, Ayesha Curry, have announced a groundbreaking initiative to transform the educational landscape in their beloved adopted hometown of Oakland. The dynamic duo’s Eat. Learn. Play. foundation has unveiled an ambitious plan to raise and invest over $50 million in additional support and resources for Oakland students by the academic year 2026.
At the heart of the initiative is a commitment to improving Oakland public schools to provide a brighter future for generations of students. The Curry’s said they are determined to ensure that all Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) students receive essential resources, including nutritious meals, literacy support, enhanced schoolyards, and youth sports opportunities. The Curry’s have pledged to cover 100% of the foundation’s administrative and fundraising costs, guaranteeing that every dollar raised goes directly back into the community through the foundation’s programs.
The OUSD schools, which serve as the epicenter of the foundation’s mission, are expected to see maximum impact from this initiative, benefiting nearly 35,000 students in their daily lives. Working alongside dedicated community partners, Eat. Learn. Play. plans to deliver tangible results for Oakland students while advocating for systemic changes to uplift youth throughout the community.
“When we launched Eat. Learn. Play. in 2019, we saw the tremendous need that existed in our adopted hometown of Oakland and set out to use our platform and resources to work to unlock the full potential of the kids in our community,” The Curry’s said in a statement. “Over the years, we’ve been inspired by the impact that happens when a community comes together to make a change, and we are now further invested to meet Oakland kids where they are each and every day, to transform their school experience and create lasting change for generations to come.”
The foundation boasts a remarkable track record across its three pillars. It has raised over $47 million, delivered more than 25 million meals, invested $6 million in literacy resources, and revitalized 12 school and community play spaces.
“We often say ‘it takes a village’ when it comes to improving the lives of children and families,” said Chris Helfrich, CEO of Eat. Learn. Play. “This expanded approach and partnership with OUSD reflect how our community partners are coming together to ensure all Oakland students have access to quality school meals throughout the year. Additionally, we are doing what we can to help make sure all Oakland elementary students have the support and resources to become proficient readers.”
One of the central pillars of the initiative is transforming the school food system to provide healthy, high-quality meals to students. The foundation pledges to make substantial investments over the next three years to ensure that Oakland students can access nutritious meals. That includes support for OUSD’s Central Kitchen, Education Center, and Instructional Garden & Farm (The Center) to provide over 6 million healthy, scratch-cooked school meals annually.
“Children across Oakland are playing on amazing, revamped schoolyards thanks to the investments made by Stephen and Ayesha Curry and Eat. Learn. Play,” Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell expressed. “This partnership has been a godsend for OUSD, as far too many outdoor play spaces need renovation. And now we know that this extraordinary partnership is just beginning.”
In addition to school meals, the Curry’s said their foundation is committed to enhancing OUSD elementary and middle school cafeterias to be engaging and dignified spaces where students can eat, learn, and socialize. The foundation’s mobile resource center will continue to provide nutritious meals and culturally affirming books to Oakland youth and their families. The couple also plans to collaborate with the Alameda County Community Food Bank and local Oakland restaurants through Community Kitchen to provide meals, produce, and grocery staples to hungry Oakland kids and families.
Additionally, they will continue to work closely with partners such as the Alameda County Community Food Bank, Brigade, Community Kitchens, No Kid Hungry, Trust for Public Land, TomKat Foundation, and UC Berkeley.
In collaboration with OUSD and literacy partners, the foundation provides high-dosage tutoring for students reading below grade level. Additionally, the Curry’s said they are committed to “spreading the joy of reading” by distributing culturally relevant books to Oakland youth through various channels. They plan to transform 25 schoolyards throughout Oakland and revitalize school sports programs to ensure all students enjoy high-quality youth sports experiences. The initiative includes remodeling six schoolyards at OUSD campuses in 2023, providing safe, high-quality spaces for active play.
Partners will include the Oakland Athletic League, OUSD’s Expanded Learning Program, KABOOM!, Aspen Institute, Under Armour, Oakland Genesis Soccer Club, Oakland Lacrosse, Positive Coaching Alliance, Sport Court, and more.