Russell Westbrook: Grants for Glitzy Giving

NET WORTH: $150 million, estimated

SOURCE OF WEALTH: NBA basketball player

FUNDING AREAS: Education & Youth

OVERVIEW: Russell Westbrook moves philanthropy through the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation, which seeks to inspire the lives of children, empower them to ask “Why Not?,” and teach them to never give up.

BACKGROUND: Born in 1988 in Long Beach, Russell Westbrook grew up in South Central Los Angeles. He attended UCLA, where he helped the Bruins reach the Final Four in both of his seasons on the team. He was selected with the fourth overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft by the Seattle Supersonics, which officially became the Oklahoma City Thunder a few days later. After a number of deep playoff runs, a finals appearance, and MVP honors with the Thunder, he was recently traded to the Houston Rockets.

ISSUES:

EDUCATION & YOUTH: Launched in 2012, the Russell Westbrook Why Not? Foundation is dedicated to supporting “community based education and family service programs while encouraging youth to believe in themselves.” As youths, Russell Westbrook and his brother were taught to ask “Why Not?” every time they were told that they could not do something. Westbrook and his family want to spread this uplifting message to youth around the country.

The foundation launches Russell’s Reading Rooms, a literacy initiative created to provide school children access to books in a safe environment where they can read with friends. Participating schools include North Highland Elementary, Adams Elementary School, and Britton Elementary. The initiative first launched in Oklahoma City and has since expanded to Los Angeles. Why Not? Foundation also runs a Christmas party, helping Oklahoma City children in need, sponsored by Jordan Brand.

Westbrook recently partnered with businessman Chad Brownstein and the LA Conservation Corps to launch the Westbrook/Brownstein Green Tech Program (WBGT), an initiative steered by a partnership between my Why Not? Foundation and Brownstein. The program will “provide digital job skills to at-risk young adults in the Corps and break down the digital divide by providing skill training for green tech job opportunities to 500 Corps members in Los Angeles.”

Westbrook has also donated to his school UCLA. He has a passion for fashion, and his Honor the Gift clothing line benefits Los Angeles' Inner-City Arts.

LOOKING FORWARD: Los Angeles and his adopted home of Oklahoma City have thus far been major sites of philanthropy for the thirty year old hooper. With his recent trade to the Houston Rockets, perhaps that region will see philanthropy from the star as well.

LINKS: Foundation Contact Page