Known for taking charges on the basketball court, Miami Heat player Shane Battier developed the Battier Take Charge Foundation to grant $20,000 college scholarships to youth in need of financial help.
The foundation now supports nine students and aims to help 16 at all times, once it builds an endowment to ensure long-term funding. Candidates are suggested partly through partner groups in three communities dear to Battier: South Florida, his former NBA home in Houston and home state Michigan.
Here’s an edited version in Battier’s own words on why he gives and what it takes to lead a foundation:
I take my responsibility as someone in the public eye very seriously. I think that if you have a platform, then you should use it for positive social change. I live by the credo, “Do Good, Do Well.”
For me, that means doing as much as I can to promote education. It’s something my wife, Heidi, and I feel very strongly about. My wife is a former schoolteacher. I was fortunate to have a very strong household where education was the focus. We would not be where we are today without a strong education.
My wife and I started working [on social programs] with the Greater Community Fund of Houston. After a while, we said, “We have a vision. We want to do something that has our imprint on it.”
So, we started the Battier Take Charge Foundation five years ago to identify and reward at-risk youth. We help intelligent, driven, future leaders, who want to go to school, do big things. They just need help.
We provide each student $5,000 per year for four years of college. We graduated our first two students in the last two years, which has been a big thrill for us. And we’re looking to grow.
So, we are excited about South Beach Battioke 2014 being held at the Fillmore Theatre – a bigger theatre this year — Jan. 27 at 8 p.m. If you’re wondering what it’s about, picture LeBron James on stage wearing a wig serenading a lucky lady from the audience. Imagine Chris Bosh as a hobo-ish Barry White singing “You’re my first, You’re my last, You’re my everything.” It’s unlike anything you’ve ever been a part of. My teammates are unbelievable. They put themselves out there.
That’s our premier fundraiser. Last year, we raised over $150,000 [from Battioke].
I actually stole the [karaoke] idea from Ray Allen. He did it a long time ago in Seattle. We heard about it from a mutual agent we share.
We’re also expanding our community roots. We just started a relationship with BBVA Compass Bank, which is big in South Florida and big in Houston. They’ve agreed to become our partner and donate $100,000 to our cause over the next five years.
We’re on a fund-raising drive to raise $1.6 million… to endow our program. We’re about half way there.
Foundations as they pertain to athletes and entertainers are highly scrutinized. There have been a lot of abuses. Many are shell programs.
Leading a foundation is not easy. It takes work. It takes diligence. Some [go astray because of] apathy, lack of intelligence or people looking not to help others but to help themselves.
Our foundation is very transparent. It’s three of us: myself, my wife and our executive director. We’d rather be small, do it right and grow, than try to manipulate the system. We keep contact with all our scholarship recipients. We have a team of lawyers who keep us on the up-and-up.
It’s a challenge to connect with philanthropic-minded people to convey your vision, that you’re legitimate and here to stay. We’re constantly trying to raise awareness about ourselves and the kids in our program, who are super-stars.
My advice? When people think about starting a foundation, they may think “I’m only one person, it’s too much.” That’s totally false. If you are passionate, have energy and are willing to work, you can make a difference. I would encourage everyone to think about how they can make their community better.