FLATBUSH — Swish!
The Nike Community Impact Fund, an initiative that began around a decade ago in partnership with Charities Aid Foundation of America, allows Nike store employees to nominate local schools and nonprofits for a grant to encourage kids in their communities to stay active.
Lucky for Brooklynites, the program started operating in the borough three years ago, and gives a total of $50,000 in local grants annually. It’s one of the 12 cities in the United States and Europe that Nike has awarded more than $7.4 million to since NCIF began.
Wish Together Swish Together received an NCIF grant from employees of the Flatbush Nike Community Store, 2236 Nostrand Ave. The organization’s mission is to repair basketball courts at public schools and public housing complexes.
Wish Together Swish Together, along with 37 other nonprofits, was awarded funding this month to help continue youth programs in the city. With this grant, children in the community will get improved spaces to play ball with their friends, participate in safe after school activities and stay in shape.
Co-founder and President of Wish Together Swish Together Maya Eskenazi discussed the organization.
“I started the nonprofit … with my younger brother, Ben (14) a few years ago,” she said. “I’m currently 18. My brother and I love basketball and are lucky enough to have played on great courts our whole lives … We want other kids to have the same opportunities as we do.
“Too often, budget cuts leave these courts broken and unusable,” she continued. “Wish Together Swish Together is hoping to put an end to that neglect and repair courts through donations.”
WTST partnered with the NYPD, along with TrueBounce backboards to provide equipment and to support the organization’s Bounce Out Bullying campaign. Each new venue kicks off with a clinic and bank shot contest, culminating in a 3-on-3 tournament.
The nonprofit repaired courts at two NYCHA complexes in Manhattan last year.
“The courts there have been broken down with no rims for as long as we can remember,” Eskenazi said. “They are eyesores in the center of larger affordable housing centers and a daily reminder of the lack of resources allocated to the community. The hoops went up June 16th and November 3rd respectively, and we’ve yet to see a day where someone isn’t playing. It’s the most amazing thing!”
Eskenazi was grateful that WTST received NCIF’s grant.
“It will allow us to fix two more courts (4 basketball backboards and rims) and host a kickoff event,” Eskenazi said.
Matt Geschke, senior director of North America Social & Community Impact for Nike, said that NCIF is part of Made to Play, Nike’s larger project to help kids lead healthier, happier and more successful lives through sports.
“Kids aren’t made to sit still, they’re made to play,” said Geschke. “Organizations like Wish Together Swish Together are working hard to get kids moving through play and sport, which we know will help lead to a bright future.”