Mavs’ Nate Hinton inspires young people as Mavs Foundation unveils brand new Reading and Learning Center
When the doors to the new Mavs Reading and Learning Center opened Tuesday afternoon, excitement quickly ensued for the dozen children selected to discover the new digs. For months, the Mavs Foundation quietly outfitted the room with unique technological gadgets designed for young learners, and finally the big day had arrived.
One by one, children’s eyes danced around the new Mavs-inspired computer room as the youngsters watched in total awe and amazement.
Sitting nearby were rookie Dallas Mavericks swingman Nate Hinton, Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall, Mavs Foundation president Katie Edwards and a plethora of other community leaders.
Tuesday afternoon was a day of celebration and inspiration at the Moorland Family YMCA in Oak Cliff after the Mavs Foundation officially opened its 21st reading and learning center in the North Texas community. This was especially important because children and leaders were able to mingle in an educational setting for the first time since the pandemic.
Above all, it was a reminder that anything is really possible for those who believe.
“I think it’s really special because you are the future,” Hinton told the youth in a heartfelt message at the official dedication ceremony.
“After a long day at school you have the chance to come here and dream, be inspired and be whatever you want to be.”
Maybe no one knows this better than Hinton.
The 6-foot-5 swingman grew up attending the YMCA in his hometown of Gastonia, North Carolina. Soon his dazzling basketball skills took hold and he began traveling the basketball circuit, but Hinton told the kids on Tuesday that his Y debut was central to the birth of dreams.
Growing up, Hinton let his basketball do the talking on the court, but outside the lines he felt a burning desire to touch the lives of everyone he met. Even at a young age, he understood the importance of service leadership after seeing his parents, Pastor Benjamin and Minister Tangela Hinton, serve a flock of a thousand members at Tabernacle Baptist Church for nearly three decades.
As a black man, he said it was vital for organizations like the Mavs Foundation to provide equitable resources that give young people a chance to succeed. Hinton believes the new Mavs Reading and Learning Center is another decisive step in the right direction to rekindle hope in the lives of young people.
“We have to make sure we’re doing our part in the community,” Hinton said. “We are role models and we have the chance to inspire these children. I looked at them today and saw myself in their eyes.
The 21 Mavs Reading and Learning Centers spread across North Texas are uniquely designed to provide reading learning opportunities and educational programs for children and to provide computer labs and access to technology for young people.
The new Oak Cliff YMCA center is decked out with all the trinkets and tech gadgets to spark learning in any child’s heart. Half a dozen new tablets are spread over a table equipped with teaching applications, books and educational games. Space renovations include fresh paint, furniture, a new STEAM space in partnership with the Pro Gaming Foundation, and new books and board games.
The room is also loaded with new podcasting equipment, which the kids specifically requested.
As you enter the room, the artwork alone creates an atmosphere full of hope and learning. The word “INSPIRE” is splashed across the bright blue Mavericks room – a bold reminder to children who will one day become future scientists, doctors – and podcasters.
“What we do today is important to the Dallas Mavericks,” Marshall told the audience as she stepped onto the podium.
“We know what it takes to be a champion on the pitch. We have one of those champions with us today, Nate Hinton. But we also know what it takes to be a champion off the field. This is our 21st learning center in the past 25 years in this community. We are trying to make a difference in the lives of children, women and families. This is the raison d’être of the Mavs Foundation.
Marshall noted that Tuesday’s official groundbreaking ceremony was an accumulation of hard work and dedication from many, including Jeff and Kim Cuban, members of the Mavs Foundation Board of Trustees. The duo made sure to attend the unveiling because they wanted the kids to know how much they are loved and admired by people in the community.
“We love the Mavs Foundation, we have been able to do this for many years and we love to engage with the community in a way that makes a real impact,” said Jeff Cuban.
“For us, it’s been spiritual in a lot of ways, being able to go out and make sure we’re able to do so much for the kids there. You can see the eyes of kids today and how excited they are about the possibilities. They will learn here and then translate that learning into the classroom. It is the most precious thing for me. We’ve seen the excitement first-hand and we know where that excitement is going.
THE MAVS FOUNDATION CELEBRATES ITS 25TH ANNIVERSARY THIS OCTOBER
The Mavs Foundation was launched in 1996 and is dedicated to building a stronger community by empowering young people, women and families who need it most through financial support, advocacy and Services. Each year, the Mavs Foundation provides thousands of dollars in grants, basketball courts, reading and learning centers, and special projects throughout North Texas. Over the past three decades, the foundation has injected more than $ 6 million into the North Texas community.
This October will mark the 25th anniversary of the Mavs Foundation and Tuesday’s official unveiling was just the start of another momentous year for the organization. Later this month, the Mavs Foundation will dedicate a new basketball court to My Health My Resources in Tarrant County.
“Every individual in our community has been touched by many challenges over the past year, but far worse than others,” said Edwards, who is also the senior vice president of external affairs for Mavs.
“The Mavs Foundation and the Dallas Mavericks have never stopped our work and it has become even more important for us to continue and support in any way we can. Over the year a lot has happened virtually, but now we’re so excited to be back in masks and to have that direct contact that we’ve been missing for so many, many months. ”
Hinton said getting back in person with the kids was also a healing time for him.
In March 2020, Hinton was playing for the University of Houston and was on his way with his teammates to the U.S. Sports Conference Championship tournament when the bus suddenly stopped and returned to campus. Once there, Hinton hugged his teammates and they all broke up. He returned to North Carolina and trained in the gym at his father’s church. He knew he was a borderline pick in the NBA Draft, so he was willing to work hard with no idea what would happen next.
That’s when his faith took over.
Hinton believed he had a chance to make his mark in the NBA, and he spent the past summer working on his ball handling and other things he couldn’t show in college. The 2020 NBA Draft came and went with Hinton never hearing his name called, but soon the Dallas Mavs reached out and his life sped up in an instant. He moved to Dallas after signing a two-pronged contract, staying with the team and gaining valuable time and experience with the team.
When asked to recap his last year, Hinton noted that it had been a whirlwind, with the playoffs being his favorite memory of the year.
Most importantly, he honored his commitment to serving the community off the pitch and giving back to the game, surprising young people at several Mavs Academy camps across DFW this summer. Mavs community leaders said Hinton jumped at the chance to attend Tuesday’s event before leaving for the NBA Summer League next week.
This is all just one more chapter of what has already been a year of storytelling for Hinton.
“It was a lonely road to it. But through everything that happened, the ups and downs, I had to stay focused and let God take care of the rest. This is the thing I take with me. I have to start at the bottom and move on, learn and be a part of something special.
The year 2021 was a defining year in Hinton’s life after appearing in 21 games with the Mavs and was also on hand to dedicate the 21st Mavs Foundation Learning Center.
For young people and Hinton alike, Tuesday was just the beginning of what promises to be a future filled with hope, imagination and inspiration.
ABOUT THE MAVS FOUNDATION: Over the past 25 years, the Mavs Foundation has awarded grants totaling more than $ 6 million to nonprofit organizations serving women, children and families in need. In addition to the grants, the Mavs Foundation built 49 safe learning and play spaces throughout the North Texas community, including 28 basketball courts and 21 reading and learning centers. These spaces are designed to encourage healthy lifestyles and provide a safe place for children and residents, as well as expand learning opportunities and access to technology to support youth education programs, training vocational training for adolescents and adults and other essential programs. Learn more at MavsFoundation.com.