In this essay, I will talk about a charity that I am passionate about and why they were my first choice to receive the $1000 grant from Gatorade. I would like to give a huge thank you to Gatorade for selecting me as Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year and giving me the opportunity to award a charity that is very influential not only for me but for other youth.

I chose the organization ETBA, which stands for Educate Train Believe Achieve. ETBA is an organization based in Toronto, Canada, the city I grew up in and it was federally incorporated in 1999 for local youth and young athletes. ETBA has positively impacted many youth through their programming and has helped shape many young kids into bright, dedicated and intelligent athletes. ETBA’s purpose is to provide educational assistance, promote physical and mental health, and provide leadership training for youth. There are various programs ETBA has to offer, such as: Knowledge Empowers Youth programs (KEY), Acting Responsibly Together (RT), Academic Tutoring Program, Sports Programs, Competitive Basketball Programs, House League sports programs, and more.

The programs in ETBA that helped me the most were the basketball programs. These programs were filled with supportive teachers and coaches who helped train me for competitions, develop my skills on the court and provide me helpful academic tutoring. ETBA also taught me there is no basketball without something to stand on. Knowledge is power and “books before basketball” was a valuable mantra. I was also involved in the volunteering program and it helped me see that everyone has a story and needs community support. Ultimately, the volunteer program showed me the value of giving back to others.

I started to play basketball when I was in the 5th grade. Coach Cleveland was one of the coaches at ETBA and when he first saw me play, he told me that he saw something in me and that I have the potential to be something great. Ever since that moment, ETBA has been making a huge positive impact in my life. I wouldn’t be who I am today or be receiving this award without them.

Another important reason why I chose ETBA to receive this grant is because they helped me not only physically as athlete but also, mentally as a Black woman. ETBA has shaped me into skilled, intelligent and empowered young woman I am today. ETBA gave me something to believe in when I didn’t have hope in anything. They pushed me to my fullest potential, helped out my family and I when we were going through difficult times and lastly, they stood by me every step of the way when everyone underestimated the little girl from Jane Street who loved basketball. And for that, I’m forever grateful to be a part of something special and to have them in my life. So when I talk about ETBA, they are more than just an organization, they are my family. ETBA is an organization that should be recognized, not only in Toronto but all around the world.