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NBA star Russell Westbrook has been dedicated to empowering youth through education and the Washington Wizards point guard is taking his efforts further. According to People, the California native is opening a middle school and high school in Los Angeles.

Westbrook is joining forces with the L.A. Promise Fund for the creation of the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Academy. The nonprofit organization is centered on providing youth with the tools and resources needed to thrive in college and in their professional careers. Research shows in California there is a significant achievement gap that stems from an unleveled educational playing field. Aware of the inequities that exist within the school system, Westbrook was determined to develop a solution that would eliminate the socioeconomic barriers standing in the way of accessibility to an adequate education.

Westbrook says witnessing the impact of his nonprofit the Why Not? Foundation propelled him to move forward with launching the schools. Seeing the obstacles faced by students from underserved communities gave him insight into their needs and inspired him to cultivate an environment where they can rise beyond their circumstances and thrive. “Creating and supporting educational opportunities for underserved youth has always been a passion of mine. It’s so important that every child has access to a good education regardless of their socioeconomic background,” he said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “My goal in partnering with the LA Promise Fund is to ensure our South L.A. students are ready for college and, ultimately, success in a 21st-century career.”

This is not the first education-focused initiative Westbrook has led. Amid the pandemic, as many schools pivoted to virtual learning, he teamed up with Comp-U-Dopt and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner‘s office of education to donate 650 computers to children in need. In 2019, he launched the Westbrook/Brownstein Green Tech Program to provide teenagers in Los Angeles with engineering, coding and computer literacy classes.


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