When you have enough money to live like Scrooge McDuck, sometimes people write you off, figuring you for the sort that just can’t be bothered helping others. Ironically, though, it’s the mega-rich that often make some of the most incredible donations. Case in point: the owner of the Philadelphia 76ers NBA franchise recently gave $3.5 million to the Philadelphia Police Athletic League.
Youth sports leagues often struggle for funding. They are some of the best conduits for troubled kids to get off the streets and find something positive to do with their time and talent. But too often, they are left to struggle, begging for donations from those who are already strapped for cash.
Joshua Harris, though, is hardly hurting for money. The University of Pennsylvania grad is making the donation via a family foundation he’s associated with. Harris told the media he “feels an obligation” to find a way to give back to this community. “All of us who have done well in our lives, we have the responsibility to give back and to allow other people to do so. I myself grew up playing sports, and it lifted me,” Harris told a local Philly TV station.
Now Harris is giving back where it’s needed most. Eighteen of the PAL locations are within city districts with the highest crime rates and worst poverty. These kids see the road they could go down every day. Sports gives them a way up and a way out. They can learn healthy competition, learn discipline and delayed gratification. How to invest and how to succeed long term. These skills can motivate them to look past the easy bucks on the corner and toward real life.
Think that’s just propaganda? Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said the Police Athletic League helps lower crime. It focuses kids on positive activities and gives them something worthwhile to strive for – it keeps them off the mean streets.
Just how big is Harris’ donation? Well, it exceeds the entire net revenue for the PAL organization in 2013. By more than a million dollars. According to reports, the grant will be distributed over five years, ensuring that local Philly kids have a fun place to play well into the next decade.