Beyond his presence on the NBA court, veteran referee Derek Richardson has evolved into a community pillar by leading efforts designed to uplift and empower families in under-resourced neighborhoods. Richardson is advancing his mission to drive impactful change with the creation of a new school.
The 26-year referee, who currently resides in California, purchased a learning facility in Inglewood. The historic structure—which once harbored a fire station and a nightclub—was transformed into a private school for underserved children during the 1970s. Aware of the transformational power an exceptional education can have on a child’s life, Richardson was prompted to open a new educational facility. The reimagined school will be monikered after his mother Dolores T. Richardson whom he says was the “first and most important teacher throughout his life.” The learning space officially opened its doors on October 29.
The school is an extension of community-driven work that Richardson has led for years. He is the co-creator and executive director of a nonprofit dubbed the Why Can’t We Make a Difference Foundation, which was cultivated to empower youth to thrive in the classroom and beyond through academic and social learning. The nonprofit has a presence in schools throughout Los Angeles and has reached thousands of children and their loved ones. Richardson has also served as a group supervisor for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services.
Projects like the one being led by Richardson are needed to change the narrative surrounding equity in education, especially in cities like Inglewood. News about the unveiling of the Dolores T. Richardson school comes a year after NBA star Russell Westbrook announced plans to open a middle school and high school in Los Angeles through his Why Not? Foundation.
“Creating and supporting educational opportunities for underserved youth has always been a passion of mine,” said Westbrook. “It’s so important that every child has access to a good education regardless of their socioeconomic background.”