The Winner’s Circle

The Community Champion Award

Jalen Rose
The Jalen Rose Foundation
Detroit, MI
Education and sports-related grants benefiting underserved youth

Building a winning foundation:
1] Do it from the heart
2] Get people involved
3] Recruit passionate,
professional people

Retired 13-year NBA veteran Jalen Rose will never forget the day basketball icon Earvin “Magic” Johnson came to speak to his high school class. “I remember feeling like I would love to be in a similar position to help kids taste their dreams,” says Rose. And he’s done just that.

The Jalen Rose Foundation ( works to assist individuals and families in underserved communities and disaster-stricken areas here and abroad. But the emphasis is on helping young people in Rose’s hometown of Detroit. With his help, more than 30 high school students have received college scholarships of $10,000 each. The foundation also provides grants to nonprofit organizations that develop unique programs centered on sports and education. “Hope is the biggest thing that some of these kids have, and they need people willing to aid and push them,” says Rose, who started the foundation in 2000. “That gives them the fuel they need to excel.”

The foundation hit an important milestone in 2007, distributing more than $1 million to charities, including a children’s hospital in the Congo as well as victims assistance programs for those still affected by Hurricane Katrina. Now a sports broadcaster and analyst for ESPN-ABC, Rose has an endowed scholarship at the University of Michigan, his alma mater.

Rose’s motivation stems from his own upbringing; the 36-year-old credits neighborhood programs such as the Police Athletic League and the Amateur Athletic Union, both of which kept him off the streets. Knowing firsthand the important role they play, Rose is focused on making sure his foundation adds to their number, noting, “These kids just need an opportunity.”

—LaToya M. Smith

The Community Champion Award recognizes individuals working to promote volunteerism, business development, minority empowerment, education, wealth preservation, and leadership in their hometowns.

This article originally appeared in the August 2009 issue of Black Enterprise magazine.

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