PYB vs. Pandemic "If not us, who, and if not now, when?"

PYB strives to empower people, mostly from under-resourced communities, to excel as students, athletes, and positive leaders. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, our student-athletes and community partners needed our help -- now more than ever before.

The educational, social, and emotional impact of this pandemic is very real, and it disproportionately affects under-resourced communities of color, communities that many of our PYB program participants call home. It is not an exaggeration to say that the people we serve experience genuine struggle each and every day as they face severe anxiety, fear, and economic security while sheltering in tight quarters alongside their immediate family, relatives, and friends.

As an organization that is deeply committed to the empowerment of young people, especially those from challenging circumstances and limited opportunities, we said to ourselves: "If not us, who, and if not now, when?" We created and adapted five different programs designed to help those from under-resourced communities to excel as students, athletes, and positive leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MSPP Stay At Home Tournament

(Spring 2020)

We know that sudden and significant change leaves young people at great risk to suffer from increased anxiety and feelings of hopelessness, which is why our Program Team created the MSPP Stay at Home Tournament to finish out the 2019-2020 school year. This 100%-virtual program allowed us to deepen the relationships between young people and their coach-mentors, continue to cultivate a curiosity of learning, and keep them competing in ways that go beyond the court - all while practicing safe social distancing.

“We have seen tremendous response from our coach-mentors and student-athletes with the Stay At Home Tournament” - Eric Worley, PYB’s Director of Program

During the Stay At Home Tournament, MSPP student-athletes had access to weekly PYB academic module engagement, PYB Voice facilitation and coach/mentor co-editing, coach/mentor message and skill of the day, and TikTok social media challenges.

“These relationships are like life rafts for many of our kids. From FaceTiming with their coaches and teammates, to working on thoughtful essays reflecting on their experience during these tough times, the engagement is truly inspiring. It is a testament to the power of relationships in the lives of young people across our program.” - Eric Worley, PYB’s Director of Program
Photographs from the 2019-2020 MSPP season before transitioning to 100% virtual

Lace Up & Learn Up

(Summer 2020)

Though we weren't on our usual campuses as colleges and universities understandably need to protect their communities, our Lace Up & Learn Up Summer Camp Series was still able to provide both in-person and virtual camp experiences for some of our City's most-deserving young people. The camp structure was built in accordance with all local, state, and national guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

The in-person component was held at the 23rd Street Armory and featured basketball skill development, academic enrichment, coaching & mentorship, and healthy lunch & nutrition mentorship. Masks, personal water bottles, and personal basketballs were provided to each camper to ensure proper health protocols were followed.

The virtual component was a mix of engaging and fun on-demand activities that could be done at home any time! Each activity was led by a lead PYB coach-mentor and designed to help young people reach their full potential as students, athletes, and positive leaders. Activities included things such as conditioning & agility, basketball skills & drills, academic modules on social issues, and nutritional habits & tips.

The Lace Up & Learn Up Camp Series was made possible by our key partners at Fitler Club and Xponance

Photographs from the Lace Up & Learn Up Summer Camp Series

Leadership Development Academy

(March 2020 - July 2020)

The Leadership Development Academy (LDA) is an extraordinary program designed to support the development of high-potential, emerging leaders who are closely connected to PYB and come from the similar communities and circumstances as the kids whom we serve. During the COVID-19 pandemic, PYB launched its first ever LDA session, albeit in a virtual setting. Through such an enriching experience, those who participated are now even more equipped with the skills, tools, and relationships to empower their own communities and have become potent and influential leaders in their personal and professional lives, as well as in the lives of our youth.

Umi Howard delivers remarks during the first and only in-person LDA meeting before the program went 100% virtual during the pandemic

LDA participants gather for a team-building exercise before the concept of "social distancing"

Following the first session in-person, PYB and The McNulty Leadership Program at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business decided to pivot to a fully virtual program when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Although forced to be virtual, the pilot season of the LDA was still a great success.

"I believe it is vital for organizations to develop staff and lead them to become better versions of themselves. In my opinion, the Philadelphia Youth Basketball Leadership Academy was the epitome of that." - Brandon Smith, LDA Participant
Photographs from the pilot season of PYB's Leadership Development Academy

Learning Pods

(Fall 2020)

As Fall approaches and Philadelphia schools remain virtual until at least November 2020, PYB has a significant opportunity to provide a valuable experience to lower-income kids who, although they may have a chrome book and an internet connection, might otherwise lack the additional ingredients that are needed to effectively engage in virtual learning that replaces in person schooling: adult supervision and relationships with caring, well-trained young adults, positive peer interaction and community connection, healthy meals and snacks, physical activity, and fun.

Students learning about the importance of voting during PYB programming at 23rd Street Armory

PYB’s Learning Pods will provide young people with a safe space to get back to learning and focusing in on their social, emotional, and physical health. PYB is offering learning pods to supervise student learning during their virtual instruction through the school day. Additionally, PYB will provide after-school programming for those students and families that might need extended care or who desire a longer structured afternoon. PYB’s Learning Pods will help build a positive and affirming culture around student’s individual and collective learning, assist with high school selection and exposure, serve meals and snacks, and provide an enriching social, intellectual, and basketball experience. This program is made possible by our key partner, Fitler Club.

PYB student-athlete completes an academic module in a classroom at the 23rd Street Armory

I AM because WE ARE

(Fall/Winter 2020)

I AM because WE ARE is designed as a two-year program, with the pilot phase running in 2020 from mid-September to mid-December in one Philadelphia neighborhood plagued with youth gun violence and wrongful decisions.

The participants in the program will be 20 to 25 young men ages 15 to 18, the majority of whom have been touched by gun violence either as perpetrators, victims, or associates.

Philadelphia Youth Basketball is constantly adapting to make programs more accessible to those who wouldn't usually receive high-quality coaching and mentorship. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, PYB has upheld these values to the highest standards.