Alley Oop Hoops is excited to announce our corporate sponsorship with 9D Sports, an athletic and skills training program for youth basketball and football.
Christopher Brown, Co-Founder of 9D Sports, has contributed five brand-new Google Chromebooks that will be provided to exemplary student-athletes who currently don't have ideal access to devices during virtual learning.
Note from Coach Josh Haymond:
"Just before Thanksgiving, I was introduced to Chris by one of Chris’ childhood friends, Brett (Brett Smith), who I met through Raleigh Chamber's Leadership Raleigh program. Brett was spot-on to make the introduction for a number of reasons.
First, Chris works at Google in Enterprise Partnerships, focused on Chromebooks, Education, and Android - all things Mobile. If nothing else, it would be a fruitful conversation for me to gain market intelligence from the major player in the Chromebook space given our success (and inventory struggles) with the Chromebook Drive.
Second, outside of Chris' professional work at Google, Chris’ side hustle is athletic performance training with his business partner Keith, and he has a heart for the youth, always looking for ways to give back with time and resources. If you're in the Northeast, check out 9D Sports at https://www.9dsports.com/
In our initial conversation, Chris shared that there wasn't much Google could do, as Google had a deficit of nearly 8 million Chromebook units at the time. But (BIG but), he had five brand-new Chromebooks at his house and was happy to send my way. Chris asked for my address and the rest was history.
Thank you, Chris, for your amazing gesture to support our youth!"
Alley Oop Hoops is excited to announce our corporate sponsorship with Vaco, a premier talent solutions firm!
Vaco’s Raleigh office has awarded Alley Oop Hoops with a gracious $5,000 contribution to our Chromebook Drive. This donation will allow us to supply no less than 45 more students in the Raleigh-Durham area with Chromebooks as virtual learning continues to exponentially impact students without adequate access to hardware. The entirety of the donation will go dollar-for-dollar to Chromebooks.
Though Vaco is a talent and transformation company, the organizations high-level goals are far loftier. Through multiple associations and strategic partnerships, Vaco has cemented itself as a pillar in Triangle economic development and start-up growth. “To take the Triangle to the next level, organizations need to be more diverse, not just based on race and gender, but also in financial privilege and opportunities granted,” says Sid Mitchener, senior managing partner at Vaco. With the firm belief that “talent is equally distributed, whereas opportunity is not,” Vaco has set out to level the opportunities our community is offered. This includes holding monthly start-up mentorship and coaching, offering mock interviews for underserved groups, and investing in a diverse talent pipeline, particularly within STEM education. Sid adds, “We see the work Alley Oop is doing with our future generations and this is truly what will unlock the potential for both the individuals served, and the region as a whole.”
Given Vaco’s corporate and community focus on technology, finance and accounting, we are thrilled Vaco has agreed with the critical role that access plays in achieving positive outcomes.
ABOUT ALLEY OOP HOOPS
Alley Oop Hoops is a mentoring program connecting youth to community advocates through our shared love of the game of basketball. Our mentors help student athletes reach their full potential on and off the court, with programs focused on leadership development, STEM education, entrepreneurship, career readiness, community engagement, and wellness, both physical and mental. The organization was founded in June 2020, as an approved 501(c)(3) charitable organization, EIN 85-1483359. All contributions are tax deductible. Alley Oop Hoops loves partnering with local leaders similarly committed to the development of our future generations.
Vaco provides boutique level service with global reach in the areas of consulting, consultative project resources, executive search, permanent placement and strategic staffing. Areas of expertise include c-suite search, accounting, finance, technology, health care IT, operations, administration and international managed services. Since its founding in 2002, Vaco has grown to serve more than 40 markets across the globe, 9,800 employees and $700 million in revenue. Vaco has been named to Inc. magazine’s list of the fastest-growing private companies for the past 14 years and was named to Forbes’ 2018 & 2019 lists of America’s Best Recruiting Firms.
Alley Oop Hoops presents
"Drive & Kick" with Justin Youngblood
Justin is an experienced sales manager with demonstrated history of success in the pharmaceuticals industry. Justin has a Bachelor of Science (BS) focused in Business Administration, Management and Operations from University of North Carolina at Greensboro. More recently, Justin received his license as a Certified Financial Coach and created Fine with Frugal, a service empowering clients to budget.
Basketball as a child
Basketball was everything as a kid. A ball was put in Justin’s hands at the age of 2. He could occupy his time for all of his childhood – either playing basketball or watching basketball. Basketball shaped who he was – between the friendships you make, the lessons you are taught, the culture that surrounds basketball.
Realization that basketball wasn’t forever
When Justin got to high school, he was shocked at the level of talent – the competition was crazy in the area. Justin was not a stand-out player – he played two years of Junior Varsity and two years of Varsity. During his JV years, he was still naïve that he might play at the next level. It was when he was a Junior and was primarily a reserve player that he realized it was unlikely he’d play in college. “That was a hard pill to swallow for someone who has lived their life around the game of basketball. I really feel like I failed in a sense.” So now what?
College studies and pivots
Justin had no idea what he would study in college. He had lived so much of his life consumed with basketball that he just assumed college was next as all of his friends were going to college. There’s freedom, there’s partying, but he was not focused on academics initially. Justin’s uncle had a successful commercial real estate business in Maryland, and at the time UNC Greensboro had a major in finance and real estate that he expected to study. Why UNC-G? It was easy to get into, friends were going, and it was cheap. When he got to school, they removed that major. He began studying accounting, and realized it was going to be too much work to be successful. School had come so easily to Justin until this point. In hindsight, Justin wished he had pushed through with accounting. Justin then tried Information Systems as he had several friends in Information Systems, and he realized he didn’t like that either, so he pivoted to Business Administration (he had enough credits to minor in Information Systems).
Finding a post-graduate opportunity
College was a great experience for Justin from a networking standpoint, but Justin did not use the professional networking opportunities for his advantage. There were plenty of resources on campus to meet companies and find internship opportunities. Justin always pushed off career preparation until graduation, but then he graduated in 2011 which was a difficult time to find work in the down economy. Justin’s father had a friend who worked an online ticketing company similar to StubHub. He learned a lot about what he liked and didn’t like in Corporate America, and knew he did not want to be in an office all day. He had to be around people as a bigger part of his role.
Pivot to pharmaceutical sales
Justin was researching what he was interested in, and through some family friends, he gained more exposure to sales in the pharmaceutical industry. Justin applied to hundreds of jobs and received hundreds of rejection letters. The only return call he got was in 2012, he got a phone call for an interview in Winston-Salem. Initially, he did not want to move to Winston-Salem, and despite the fact he didn’t want to move away from Raleigh, he took the role and it was the best thing he could have ever done.
Benefits of Corporate America
Comfort level with money as a youth
Justin had no comfort level with money as a child. Money wasn’t talked about in his house. Justin came from a low-middle class household – his family was on government assistance for part of his childhood. His parents always made them feel like they had what they needed, but there was a lot of “no, we cannot afford that” from his parents. He never felt like he was prepared to do anything other than make money and spend money, but not budget, invest, and save. Justin took out $40K in student loans to put himself through college. Justin’s mother advised, “you know you have to pay this back later?” He used his checks from the student loans to do more than support his education, which he regrets. He took as much money out as he could with no repercussions of the decision.
Realization that his financial situation had to change
When he graduated, he was making no money. Justin put his loans in to forbearance and could not pay down the loans. After a period of time, he had to pay them down as interest continued to accrue. In 2012 when he got into pharma sales, he had a ton of debt and realized he couldn’t simply pay down the minimum payments. He didn’t feel like he had the tools to build a plan to take the next step to financial freedom.
Justin was lucky to have a colleague, Chad, who was financially savvy. Justin shared with Chad his financial situation and Chad introduced Justin to Dave Ramsey. Justin leaned on Chad with questions – things like 401K match, health savings account, etc. Chad became Justin’s guiding light – “I would not be where I am financially without him.”
A starting point for anyone behind in finances
“It’s so easy to feel like you are getting further behind. I just don’t want to look at it. If I sweep it under the rug, it will go away.” We spend 40 hours a week making money, but we don’t spend 30 minutes a week managing our money. Take 30 minutes a week – set some goals, work towards them and relentless pursue those goals. Goals can be as small as saving $500 for an emergency. Look at your money and don’t let your money tell you where to go. Live on less than you make – if you bring in $3K per month, you shouldn’t spend $4K per month.
When to start teaching financial literacy to youth
“It drives me insane that this isn’t taught in school. It doesn’t have to be the complex ideas of investing, but rather simple principles like budgeting, saving, and giving.” You learn these lessons at home, or from a friend, or from researching. By teaching small lessons early on, you will be better suited to have a financial foundation.
Alley Oop Hoops is excited to announce a corporate sponsorship with Fine with Frugal!
Fine with Frugal is led by Raleigh-native Justin Youngblood , a Certified Financial Coach, empowering clients to budget, become debt free and invest for the future. Justin has made a substantial donation to our organization, and in a post-pandemic world our organizations will work together to bring financial literacy to our youth.
Justin will also be a guest on the “Drive & Kick” IG Live Series on Tuesday, December 8th to share more about his story, the important of financial literacy, and the genesis of his side hustle in financial coaching.
Thank you, Justin!
Alley Oop Hoops is excited to announce our first corporate sponsorship with Red Hat!
Red Hat has awarded Alley Oop Hoops with a gracious $5,000 contribution to our Chromebook Drive. This donation will allow us to supply no less than 45 more students in the Raleigh-Durham area with Chromebooks as virtual learning continues to exponentially impact students without adequate access to hardware. The entirety of the donation will go dollar-for-dollar to Chromebooks.
Known as an organization that consistently invests in its community, in a recent Red Hat Corporate Responsibility Report, Paul Cormier, President and CEO, had to say, “Red Hat culture is rooted in values designed to create better software and drive innovation. These values were born in open source communities, are reflected in our development model, and inform how we engage with the world around us. We recognize that collaborating this way is key to unlocking the potential of the communities where we live, work, and play. While Red Hat as a company, and the world as a whole, have experienced significant change this past year, we remain as committed as ever to open source, both as a technology and a philosophy. Our programs are driven by Red Hat’s unique, open approach—whether focused externally, like volunteer efforts and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education; or internally, like aiming to enhance our associate experience and inclusive culture.”
Given Red Hat’s corporate and community focus on technology and STEM, we are incredibly pleased that Red Hat’s Community Relations team agreed with the critical role that access plays in achieving positive outcomes.
Special thanks to Ashley Shadoin for the introduction to this opportunity!
ABOUT ALLEY OOP HOOPS
Alley Oop Hoops, Inc. is a mentoring program connecting youth to community advocates through our shared love of the game of basketball. Our mentors help student athletes reach their full potential on and off the court, with programs focused on leadership development, STEM education, entrepreneurship, career readiness, community engagement, and wellness, both physical and mental. The organization was founded in June 2020, as an approved 501(c)(3) charitable organization, EIN 85-1483359. All contributions are tax deductible. Alley Oop Hoops loves partnering with local leaders similarly committed to the development of our future generations.
ABOUT RED HAT
Red Hat, Inc. is the world’s leading provider of enterprise open source software solutions, using a community-powered approach to deliver reliable and high-performing Linux®, hybrid cloud, container, and Kubernetes technologies. Red Hat helps customers integrate new and existing IT applications, develop cloud-native applications, standardize on our industry-leading operating system, and automate, secure, and manage complex environments. In 2019, Red Hat was acquired by IBM for US$34B, the largest software acquisition to date. The acquisition redefines the cloud market for business. Together, IBM and Red Hat will accelerate innovation by offering a next-generation hybrid multicloud platform.
Access is often taken for granted. Virtual learning has been challenging for all students, but many students without access to appropriate technology are falling behind further.
Our community partners have spoken – Alley Oop Hoops was on to something when our first fundraiser surrounded access to Chromebooks. Though we have connected 100 students in Wake County with Chromebooks since July, for every student we have helped, there are five more students without at-home hardware access for virtual learning. The result? Many students are using their phones in an already difficult situation.
The school system has taxed its resources, and is unable to provide further hardware. Further, the Chromebook's previously provided by the school systems were not be owned by the families, thus the students who received Chromebooks from the school system are thankful, yet will not be able to fully appreciate the value of ownership.
$100 can buy one refurbished Chromebook, capable of handling the everyday tasks of virtual learning.
Every little bit counts, and we appreciate your consideration. Please click the DONATE button below.
Alley Oop Hoops presents
"Drive & Kick" with Dasan Ahanu
Dasan is a public speaker, organizer, curator, educator, poet, spoken word artist, educator, songwriter, and emcee, and loyal Hip-Hop head born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is co-founder and managing director of Black Poetry Theatre, a Durham based theatre company that creates and produces original poetry and spoken word based productions. Dasan is a former Assistant Professor of English at St. Augustine’s University, and visiting lecturer at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the Rothwell-Mellon Program Director for Creative Futures with Carolina Performing Arts.
Dasan grew up in Raleigh, going to North Ridge, Ligon, and then Enloe. Dasan’s mother and father had him young - mother was 16 and father was 17. He grew up around both of his parents' families, and had a strong matriarch family with both grandmothers involved. He was allowed to be curious and precocious, and his family tried to keep him active and busy with puzzles, things to put together, chess, etc.
When he was young, Dasan’s mother signed him up for Carolina Pines Community Center, and it was his first organized sports - football (7th - 10th grade), summer park, tennis, and fell in love with basketball in high school.
Curiosity was the constant in Dasan’s youth. He was shy and reserved. “If I wasn’t given something to figure out, I got bored easily.” “I was lucky to get tested instead of medicated.” “If I could figure it out, I felt comfortable. If I couldn’t wrap my mind around it, I got frustrated.”
What drew Dasan to art
“Art is one of those things you can do by yourself. I didn’t need anybody else to create. My exploration of art was something I could do by myself.” Art became Dasan’s coping mechanism. He was not immediately comfortable sharing, but that came with time. At Enloe, he had a lot of friends who talked him into doing things that weren’t always comfortable, but that was easier than sharing his own art.
Dasan started at NC A&T where there was a strong creative writing department and cultural arts. He was talked into going to an open mic - the first time he was talked into sharing anything he had written.
Early career transitions
Dasan worked his way into Corporate America as an Executive Office Assistant. He joined IBM as a Project Supervisor. At the time, he thought he would go into project management. Because of his job, Dasan was able to pay to maneuver to find new poetry spots - traveling to New York, etc. Then, around 9/11, there was an economic pullback, and Dasan had to lay off much of his team before he was let go. Dasan was told that he wouldn’t be able to find work at the same rate because he didn’t have a college degree.
Dasan then went back to school to St. Augustine’s to get his degree. There was a program that would allow him to accelerate his studies, but this program didn’t give him the time to have a normal full-time job. Dasan was spending a lot of time around the arts community and was asked to do youth work, which he loved. By the time he finally graduated with a degree in Organizational Management, he still expected to go back into Corporate America, but he was deep in the arts scene and hip-hop scene - “there was no turning back at this point.”
Connection to 9th wonder
Basketball is the great equalizer. Dasan used to search for runs, and Carmichael Gymnasium at the time was a great spot. Dasan’s cousin who went to NC State would invite him to come play. Dasan met 9th Wonder at the Carmichael games. The first artist Dasan met was Cesar Comanche, around the time that Justus League was coming up, and got plugged in through Cesar.
Still playing basketball?
Yes, he is still playing in year-round leagues in Cary. “It’s my other love.”
Experience as a Harvard Fellow through Nas’ Hip-Hop Fellowship
Being at Harvard & Cambridge was amazing. The Archive was a phenomenal place - research based instead of memorabilia based - so much stuff to read, pick up, and dig through. The year he was there, the folks that got brought through campus - they honored Nas that year, so he met Nas. Lupe, Bun B, Pusha T, Quest Love, Black Thought, Esperanza Spalding. “Just to be there representing hip-hop was crazy.”
Evolution of local hip-hop scene
The vibe is a little different but the energy is the same. The way the artists congregate looks familiar. Dasan feels bad that they don’t have the same types of venues - the mom and pop places like Local 506, Berkeley Cafe, Hideaway, etc. There are some young cats who are on the radio wave, but he still meets die-hards of the Golden Era of hip-hop.
“The culture doesn’t change. What we see in the industry is one thing, but the culture doesn’t change.” Young like-minded folks who want to be around one another to make something fun.
Dasan’s role as Program Director of Creative Futures Program with Carolina Performing Arts
The heart of the program is the artist in residency program - between local community partners where artists are supported by community partners and creating together. Building community connections that benefit not only the artists but the community supporters as well. Incentivizing both sides while demonstrating how art can be of benefit to the community. So often, artists are kept in silos versus all working together.
They had not found a Director for the first year of the grant. Someone he knew within the community brought it to Dasan’s attention and he applied.
Dasan joined for the second year of a four-year grant, and then COVID-19 hit. The current work for the grant is how to reimagine how to work during these times. Understanding the digital landscape, and how to sustain and maintain.
Dasan’s main course he teaches at UNC-CH is a Spring course, and he also teaches a three-course summer hip-hop course that was recently wrapped up. Dasan was a teacher on St. Augustine’s campus from Fall 2006 to Spring 2015 to head to Harvard for the Hip-Hop Fellowship. During his time at St. Augustine’s, the university encouraged him to get his masters degree, and rewarded him thereafter with a promotion. He became an Assistant Professor in Fall 2011.
Art leveraged as a tool for social movement
“These are the moments where art is so critical, both in terms of helping people think about the moment, but also helping people think past it to be reminded of what it looks like to get through it. To see themselves reflected, the best parts of themselves reflected, to know they are not struggling alone. Whether it is poetry, visual art, music, film, to fill spaces. We are forced to be still a lot more than we are used to, you have these things to fill spaces.”
Dasan is seeing that after a few really difficult months, everyone is settling back into the creativity and delivering in this moment. “Across the board as artists, we are going to be a lot savvier and smarter. Not only is there going to be a shift in consciousness socially, but also artistically. We have surprised ourselves with the types of things we can do on our own, which will change the way we move on the other side of this.”
Favorite producer? DJ Premier
Favorite emcee? Sean Price
Favorite musician? Prince
This weekend, we successfully distributed 48 laptops in the community to student-athletes who needed hardware to support virtual learning.
Most importantly, we would like to thank our community partners - Poobie Chapman, Chris Davis, and Rashad "Pooh" Herndon of the Boys Club, for making sure these laptops get in to hands of youth who need them.
Alley Oop Hoops would also like to give flowers to:
- Mayne Pharma USA for donating the laptops.
- Vaco Raleigh's Office Manager Cocoa Pittman for inventorying and preparing the computers for distribution.
- Qwik Pack & Ship for donating a majority of the supplies.
- Dell for providing the laptop chargers at a fraction of the typical cost.
Please reach out if you work for or with a business that has computer equipment available for donation!
Alley Oop Hoops presents
"Drive & Kick" with Rashad West
Born in Boston, MA, Rashad has over a decade of experience in various mediums including professional sports, education, business, and leadership. In college, he was nominated as a NCAA Bob Cousy Award nominee given to the nation’s candidate who emphasizes leadership, teamwork, success, and fundamentals. After graduating from Hampton University, Rashad entered Corporate Finance in Loss Mitagation at Wells Fargo, then as an MBS Analyst at Credit Suisse during summers and time off from pursuing professional basketball abroad. After finishing his professional tour overseas, he supported several start-ups and continues to do as a consultant to early stage companies, also starting his own tech company.
Upbringing in basketball
Rashad was born in Boston. He came to Raleigh in elementary school and went to Cathedral Middle School, then started high school at Cardinal Gibbons before transferring and finishing at Ravenscroft. As a child, Rashad ran track, played football, but there was something about basketball that stuck with him. His mom and dad both played basketball at Hampton University (where Rashad played).
Recruiting and pivot to college
Rashad was not highly touted in high school, and because there were not as many eyes on private school all, he had to scratch and claw for college looks. Most of his college looks came through AAU. Garner Road, Durham Disciples – David Noel, Ivan Jenkins, Sheldon Bailey, Vincent Greer, Raleigh’s Finest with James Mays. Only after Rashad graduated, were more eyes on private school basketball in the state with Ryan Kelley and John Wall. Rashad’s Ravenscroft team lost to Anthony Morrow’s Charlotte Latin team in the State Championship of the private schools in North Carolina. Rashad was recruited organically by Hampton University. He was more interested in Boston College and Virginia Tech, but he got hurt in his senior year of high school.
Experience at Hampton University
Rashad was running mates with Adrian Woodard from Lee County at Hampton University in the starting lineup together as freshmen. He was First-Team all MEAC and a Bob Cousy Award Nominee during his time at Hampton. Hampton had a Top 50 recruiting class his junior season and came off the bench as 6th/7th man, which was a difficult pill to swallow. Even so, his competitive nature was that he wanted to be in the NBA.
Rashad had moments where he doubted basketball. “I would go to the gym but I might not go hard that night. I might still get in some work but there is someone outworking me.” “Even when you are down, or not having a good season or good game, you go in the gym and find something to work on.” Rashad could have done more to have organized and prepared for after basketball. Hard work is what differentiates those from who do well and from those who don’t. Now, every day, Rashad looks at business – “This is a new day, what is the one thing I can do today such that by doing it, everything else is easier when necessary. I want to make my life easier by working hard.”
Preparing for after basketball
One of his teammates at Hampton University, Laurel Djoukeng, was an influence of his. Laurel would email executives while in college. Laurel exposed Rashad to other avenues – venture capital, start-up, building wealth as an investor. “As much as I loved playing the game, I knew I had to prepare for something else. You are thinking about the game, the practice, who made a play, competing every day, making the coach happy. You are getting pulled in so many different directions.” Mental health on an athlete is not always easy.
He played professionally with top competition in Spain – “When the professional basketball career ends, you have to have a plan for once your playing days are over.”
He knew that tech was the way in to venture capital. IT & business seemed a more stable, more opportunistic career path and it offered a way into the career he wanted. Rashad does not have a lot of developers to lean on. He can code in Python, C-Sharp to a degree – self-taught. He interned in corporate finance and technology and took courses at general assembly, learning from corporate executives.
About CX Labs, Inc.
CX Labs, Inc. was created to learn through play, using sports and entertainment to teach. The company has built an innovative curriculum to instill the values of sport with skills of academia. They are now up to 8 employees, including two interns, to help scale the business in adding the STEM component to sports. Rashad’s business partner is the creative and has extensive experience with preparing curriculum. Rashad has learned that “content is King and data is Queen” – Rashad has historically been focused on data, but now the focus is now on exposure and content.
“Let’s impact youth in a way that will create opportunities. You may not make millions, but you will be able to sustain and provide for your family.”
Upcoming, in Winter 2020, CX Labs, Inc. will be working with trainers & coaches leading virtual basketball camps through math. Adding STEM component to sports - teaching math through game of basketball. The difficulties in the moves you do shows the level of your skill, while also learning math along the way. There are trainers using the took in California, New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina.
How early is too early for student athletes to begin thinking about entrepreneurship and life after basketball?
He cannot remember a time where he wasn’t thinking about basketball. “In order to be great at anything, you have to have 10,000 hours in to it, some way, form or fashion,” which is why Rashad focused on how to leverage his basketball foundation.
“If you’re old enough to think about it, read about it, you might as well start.”
Rashad never understood why all these players go broke. There is something foundationally wrong, not only with the households of people of color not knowing financial literacy, but there is also an aspect of an accountant, financial advisor, or banker running the numbers for you, a lot of times you may not understand what the financial statement is saying. “Developing those skills early,” re: financial literacy skills is key. It’s not anybody's fault for lacking financial literacy and accounting skills - the institutions and foundations fail the student-athletes by not teaching and rewarding business skills.
They are working with children in Uganda and Sierra Leone. These children do not have pen and paper, so they are trying to build the foundation of STEM. “The only true language is math. It is a universal language. Anyone will hire you. You can do finance, data science, accounting. Math is the lost language. It is the one thing everyone can speak."