ABCD’s WorkSMART Youth Program NBA Foundation Grants to Advance Economic Empowerment in the Black Community


Greater Boston and Medford youth ages 14-21 in grades 7-12 are encouraged to apply to WorkSMART

(BOSTON, MA) – ABCD is among 12 impactful organizations from coast to coast included in the NBA Foundation’s seventh round of grantees receiving a total of $4.8 million for their youth initiatives that align with the Foundation’s goal of furthering economic power in the Black community. Between January 2023 and June 2025, 450 low-income Boston youth in under-resourced and under-represented communities will gain skills development, hands-on work experience, tutoring, mentoring, wraparound support services and a paycheck to help them succeed and plan for a future in the workforce while achieving academically. WorkSMART offers Boston youth an eight-week paid internship during the school year at companies across the city and helps kids stay in school.

Currently, Black youth comprise 55% of participants in WorkSMART. The NBA Foundation grant requires that WorkSMART achieve parity with the makeup of the NBA by ensuring that 73% of program participants are Black. According to racial equity activist and Director of the Institute for Diversity & Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida, Richard Lapchick, Ph.d, the NBA in 2021 Was comprised of 73.2 percent African American players. Lapchick is the son of the Original Boston Celtics center Joe Lapchick

ABCD President and CEO Sharon Scott-Chandler said that the NBA Foundation’s generous support can be a game changer for Black youth. “We are excited and thankful for the NBA Foundation’s recognition of ABCD’s youth development, social justice and racial equity work in Greater Boston. This critical investment allows ABCD to expand and deepen its impact among Black youth, help facilitate broader student recruitment and retention and provide better outcomes for Black youth in Greater Boston. By earning a paycheck, achieving in school, and being exposed to the professional workplace, WorkSMART participants develop important life and leadership skills which contribute to their present and future economic mobility,” she said.

East Boston APAC is affiliated with Action for Boston Community Development

Part of the Solution

Created in 2020, the NBA Foundation began with a $300 million pledge by the 30 team governors to empower Black youth over a 10 year period. NBA Foundation Executive Director Greg Taylor told Sports Promedia of the Foundation’s origins. “We grew out of the summer of 2020, and in the U.S. there was a lot of social unrest, particularly around the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others. So identifying what our starting mission was going to be from a social justice standpoint needed a lot of internal conversations. I think that’s why being as focused as we are on our mission is so powerful, because what it says is that a brand that’s as recognizable and powerful as the NBA really wants to be part of the solution to these historic issues,” he said.

WorkSMART is also part of the solution, helping to negate obstacles and close achievement gaps faced by low-income youth in under-resourced and under-represented communities, thereby contributing to their success and economic mobility. Commonwealth Magazine cited a study led by Alicia Sasser Modestino, research director at Northeastern University’s Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University that referenced ABCD’S SummerWorks program. “New research evidence among Boston high school students points to an out-of-school factor that can help close those gaps: a job.”

Like ABCD’S summer program, WorkSMART produces many of the same positive outcomes through employment skills development and adds additional tutoring, mentoring and learning opportunities along with longer-term support from case managers.

Community Collaboration

The NBA Foundation grant will also allow ABCD to increase its programmatic staff, deepen engagement with students and strengthen its relationship with the Boston Public Schools to enroll a larger percentage of Black youth in WorkSMART.

Youth and parents can learn more about WorkSMART and apply here.