Two years ago, former Warriors guard Jacob Evans led a clinic at the Boys and Girls Club of East Palo Alto and spoke about the obstacles he overcame in his journey. Evans became an all-ACC player, a first round pick in the NBA Draft, and has succeeded both in the NBA and G-League since then. But his story wasn’t always easy. Raised by a single mother who worked tirelessly each day to give him the opportunities needed to succeed instilled the same inspiration and passion back in Evans himself.
“He saw how hard she worked and he wanted to work just as hard in different ways. He had a drive and he was inspired by something,” Packie Turner said.
Evans' story is no anomaly. Hope. Passion. Dreams. It’s these three principles that guided the Fall 2020 launch of the Unlimited Potential Basketball Youth Charitable Foundation (UPBYCF). Bianca Turner, the President and CEO of UPBYCF, and Packie Turner, the Vice President, have these goals in mind with this new initiative. Their mission statement states that “UPB Youth Charitable Foundation focuses on building safe and supportive environments where young children can learn the value of hard work, positive leadership, getting outside of their comfort zone, and confidence.”
Behind the creation of UPBYCF lies years of activism for both Turners and a sustained interest in bettering communities in The Bay Area. They know the statistics that six times as many low-income students drop youth sports when compared to those from high-income families because of access (Aspen Institute Project Play Initiative). They also know firsthand the power sports has to build character because “a survey of 400 female corporate executives found 94% played a sport and that 61% say sports contributed to their career success (EY Women Athletes Business Network/espnW, 2014). The launch of UPBYCF is bounded in these statistics and in past experiences both Turners have had with nonprofits such as The Boys and Girls Club, Big Homie Project, and Play MakeHers. Yearly clinics at UPB have focused on women’s empowerment, and tackled issues like access to sports, and hunger.
“We think any athlete who’s willing to put in extra time to better their skills deserves to work with us no matter if they can afford it or not,” Bianca Turner said.
The initial stages of building UPBYCF will include the formation of “The Unlimited Scholarship,” which provides a year of skills training, mentorship, and off-court mental skills training with the Texas Rangers’ Major League Mental Skills coach Mike Franco.
“Basketball is just one avenue of our lives and their lives and it shouldn’t be their only focus. We want to find a way for them to take the things they learn here and apply it to their everyday life,” Packie Turner said. “From the mental skills standpoint, it’s just tools for life.”
The scholarship will be need-based and applicants will be selected based on interest and dedication to the initiative, which will be demonstrated in an upcoming application process. And the purpose of such a program is more than just extra on-court skills, it’s about developing tools for life.
“I learned that even if I wasn’t the best at something if I put in extra time and effort I could get better and that’s where I really learned about the growth mindset,” Bianca Turner said. “That’s what I want kids to learn.”
Being able to put together scholarships for underserved youth is the initial goal of UPBYCF but both Turners are clear that their future goals for the program stretch far beyond scholarships, but also include school visits. It all goes back to the goal of helping underserved youth find their passions, and accomplish their dreams.
There’s one particular exercise Clair Steele will never forget from UPB. And that’s Packie’s famous five-minute plank that would be thrown in at the end of workouts. Clair Steele used to dread those planks.