Leaders said it will transform thousands of young lives in underserved communities each year.
The Alan Horwitz Sixth Man Center powered by Philadelphia Youth Basketball will be located right off Wissahickon Avenue near Fernhill Park. It’s named after the Sixers superfan who donated $5 million to the project.
In addition to its seven basketball courts, it will also hold classrooms, a civic dialogue arena, financial planning services, and a healthy foods commissary.
Kenny Holdsman, CEO of the PYB non-profit, called it a holistic approach to transforming young lives.
"We wanted to leverage this city’s iconic game to put a much more expansive set of learning and development experiences into the kids' lives who needed them greatly," Holdsman said, listing those experiences.
"Engaging academics, critical thinking, advocacy skills, and a love of learning, inspiring leadership opportunities, nourishing meals, nutrition information, powerful relationships, with caring and relatable coach mentors, health and wellness services, empowering exposures to higher education, career pathways, financial literacy and wealth-building, and positive self-esteem and identity formation."
He further said the goal of the center is to develop young people to their full potential as students, athletes, and leaders.
"We have been carefully designing and executing these program models to help young people find passion and purpose in very positive ways, to grab hold of their lives and envision for themselves a life trajectory, far greater than what their own circumstances might afford them."
"In some ways, that’s our secret sauce. That’s what we’re all about," said Jaryn Garner, a coach and mentor with the PYB program that operates in gyms across the city.
"We emphasize recruiting high-quality, culturally relatable coach mentors who come from the same circumstances as the young people we serve, so that we have meaningful, trusting relationships. A lot of times, that is what our young people are looking for, whether they know it or not. They just want to be seen, heard, and felt that they have some value."
He said 90% of their program participants are Black boys and girls from low-income areas.
"75% of our coach mentors grew up in similar communities environments, and that familiarity allows us to bond instantly because we know what they’re going through. And they know that we went through it as well."