Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns Charities Announce Next ‘Starting Five’ Grants to Valley Nonprofits

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Posted By on May 17, 2021

Five local nonprofit organizations were invited to Phoenix Suns Arena for the game and told they were finalists for a Phoenix Suns Charities grant from star shooting guard Devin Booker. But during a first-quarter timeout, a pre-recorded address from Booker unexpectedly came over the massive video board.

“From the beginning of my career, it has been important for me to be involved with the Suns organization and the community here in Phoenix,” Booker said. “The state of Arizona, and our fans, have supported me on and off the court, and I wanted to return the love.”

“A few years ago, I pledged $2.5 million over five years to Arizona nonprofits serving families and children in need through my Devin Booker Starting Five Initiative. Since the last year has been so tough for so many, I’m especially proud to announce the second year of this initiative.”

Booker then named off all five groups in attendance: Arizona Autism United, Central Arizona Shelter Services, YMCA of Southern Arizona, GAP Ministries and Elevate Phoenix.

As Booker introduced this year’s recipients in front of thousands inside the arena bowl, representatives from the five nonprofits realized they were in fact all selected to each receive $100,000 in transformative funds for their organization.

The second class of the Devin Booker Starting Five is just the latest iteration of Booker’s commitment to the Valley. Nonprofit recipients of the Devin Booker Starting Five grants have previously received grants from Phoenix Suns Charities to forward their work supporting children and families in need across Arizona. The first class — Special Olympics Arizona, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center, UMOM New Day Centers and Ability 360— received their $100,000 grants in late 2019.

“All of these organizations better the lives of the youth by giving them opportunities they need to succeed. I want to thank these organizations for allowing me the opportunity to help advance all of the work they’re doing in our community,” Booker said.

Jazmine Hall, the Development Director of Elevate Phoenix, was “overwhelmed” by the surprise. That $100,000 will be used to continue the nonprofit’s mission of delivering long-term, life-changing relationships with urban youth through after-school mentoring/tutoring, career instruction and peer leadership development. Hall is honored to partner with Booker and the Phoenix Suns, especially after the immense challenges of 2020.

“This means the world to our kids at Elevate Phoenix,” Hall said. “This grant is going to help create a safe space. Our kids are going to be able to look at pictures and posters of Devin Booker and say, ‘Wow, not only does he look like me, but now he’s giving me a place to call my own, and a safe spot to say I mattered enough.”

“This really means the world to us.”

Booker has excelled on the court for the Suns over the past six seasons, becoming a two-time All-Star and preparing to lead his team into the playoffs for the first time in his career. But his dedication off the court has been equally important to the city of Phoenix. For the past several years, Booker has treated youth from around the Valley to holiday shopping sprees, pledged more than $100,000 to Phoenix Suns Charities in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and is a Special Olympics Global Ambassador promoting inclusion through sport, especially opportunities involving basketball.

“These organizations are using the grants wisely. They’re building courts, adding learning spaces – it’s turning out really well,” Booker said. “Obviously, COVID has restricted the way we could announce this year’s class, but having them at Phoenix Suns Arena, in a big win, was a really cool moment.”

To celebrate the 2020-21 class, Booker and Phoenix Suns Charities have created a limited-edition Devin Booker Starting Five Book hoodie commemorating the selected nonprofits. Designed by Booker himself, the first-of-their-kind hoodies are available for purchase for one week only online now at SunsCharities.com and the Phoenix Suns Arena Team Shop starting Thursday, all proceeds will benefit Phoenix Suns Charities.

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