SAN FRANCISCO -- Empower Me Academy (EMA) helps youth find a place to belong so they can achieve excellence and make an impact. The San Francisco non-profit youth basketball organization offers enriching programs for athletic excellence with a unique culture that focuses on values.
One of Empower Me Academy's main programs is Basketball-Thon. The event is an infusion of March Madness and the NBA's All-Star Game for Bay Area kids, kindergarten through high school, from all backgrounds and communities.
"I'm the person that came up with this idea that youth sports or just sports in general should be a platform to empower people, primarily children," said Jerome Gumbs, the CEO/Founder of Empower Me Academy.
After playing professional ball in Europe, Coach Gumbs was inspired to come back to San Francisco and help kids at every age and skill level lead and thrive on and off the court.
"It makes me feel valued and important," said Bennett, a member at Empower Me Academy. "When you feel valued and important, it gives you confidence, and that confidence can take you to the next level."
Basketball-Thon is open to kids of all ages and skill levels. Players participate in 3-on-3 tournament-style games with fun, competitive side games such as a dunk contest. The event mixes players of different ages and genders, so everyone learns to collaborate as a team.
"EMA isn't just a gym for me, it's how I make my bed, how I brush my teeth, how I tie my shoes," said Jaydon, an Empower Me Academy member. "EMA isn't just how you're on the court, it's a certain way of life."
"This program gives me so many things, leadership, confidence, compassion, being empathetic, and how to be a good person," described Hailey, an Empower Me Academy member.
Basketball-thon also focuses on giving back with tournaments and games that raise money. Since its founding in 2013, EMA has offered over half a million dollars in tuition assistance to underserved youth.
"From a young age, my mom taught me that the true purpose of life is to be of service to others," said Gumbs. "I feel that this is my calling, and this is my way of making the world a better place."
For more information about Empower Me Academy and Basketball-Thon, visit here.