In January 2019, Nike launched the Future Varsity program, which provides leadership training to 14 young African Americans who are creating positive change in their communities. These young leaders are paired with mentors from inside and outside Nike to help advance their causes—from organizing charity basketball tournaments in Chicago to providing nutrition education to youth in New York City.
Kalli Minor started playing tennis after watching Serena when she was just 5 years old. She approached her dad saying, “Daddy I want to play tennis.” When he inevitably asked “Why tennis?” she thoughtfully explained, “There is a brown girl on TV beating everybody.” Six years later, Kalli is now using tennis to inspire other young girls that look like her through her initiative Rally with Kalli. “The courts in Compton are messed up, I want to create some tennis centers. I want to bring tennis to Compton.”
Rally with Kalli will bring tennis classes and sessions to areas that don’t have access. For Kalli, tennis is a vehicle for social and personal change, and a way to blaze a trail for generations down the line.
McKinley Nelson founded Project sWish Chicago in Summer 2018, harnessing the power of what happens on the court to change lives off the court. McKinley launched his organization with a charity basketball event at his high school alma mater. This one-day event raised enough funds to give away 1,300 backpacks with school supplies and sneakers to Chicago youth. Now McKinley is working to expand the program to a basketball league that plays games around the city during the times that statistically have a high prevalence for violence.
Through all of the challenges that life has thrown at him, McKinley has reliably been able to find refuge in basketball and he has now devoted his life to creating access to the game for others in his community. “My legacy should be less about who I am and more about what I’ve done and the lives I’ve saved.”