Jalen Rose loves the kids.
Many people may know the former NBA star by his noteworthy career on the court and as a member of the NCAA squad coined the “Fab Five.” But the current ESPN sports analyst is more than his previous work in the NBA.
Already reported by AfroTech, Rose opened a tuition-free school that offers its students post-graduation support, a concept the Detroit native firmly believes in.
“I feel like the eight most important years of a young person’s life are the four that they’re in high school or the four that they could be in college,” Rose said in a “Earn Your Leisure” interview at the time.
Rose is doubling down on this concept during the most recent NBA All-Star weekend with a partnership with STARRY, a new lemon-lime soda from Pepsi Co.
Jalen Rose joined STARRY at the University of Utah’s Black Culture Center during All-Star Weekend. The on-campus visit was met with a $50,000 donation to support the center’s program, Operation S.U.C.C.E.S.S. This program focuses on leadership development as students look to address issues in the Black community and gain invaluable work experience.
The STARRY team chose the Black Cultural Center’s Operation S.U.C.C.E.S.S. program based on its intentional efforts to help students gain leadership skills, learn from and support each other, and become leaders that drive positive change in the community.
Rose’s partnership is an extension of his everyday work to push the needle forward for students who grew up similar to him.
“This was an opportunity to expand upon the type of work I already do with the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA) in Detroit,” Rose explained to AfroTech. “Our post-secondary success team works with our alumni as they matriculate and persist through college. I take pride in partnering with organizations whose mission is aligned and those that create additional unique opportunities for Black students to thrive. At JRLA, our mantra is ‘Enter a Learner: Exit a Leader.’”
Rose is optimistic that his work encourages others in and around professional sports to use their influence to impact others within communities. The 50-year-old is actively conversing with others to reach back and pull someone up.
“Many professional athletes have causes near and dear to them and dedicate their time, energy, and money to their communities,” Rose said. “These are ongoing conversations. I continue to encourage them to do so in the community where they were raised as well as those where they perform.”
And while All-Star Weekend is over, Rose’s work with the causes he cares about most is far from over. He is already working with JRLA and hopes to expand and open a K-8 school to serve as a feeder school to his academy.
Rose is also actively looking to work with philanthropic partners to ensure the work he is most passionate about comes to life to better impact the community he advocates for.
“This work is important to me because of my own journey and the challenges I faced growing up,” he said. “Once I realized the quality of your education is defined by your zip code, I knew I had to do more to close the opportunity gap.”