Philanthropy Made Fun
Hawks guard Kyle Korver keeps his long-standing philanthropic efforts thriving in Atlanta.
Atlanta Hawks guard Kyle Korver is well-respected both on and off the basketball court. While he holds the NBA record for the highest single season three-point percentage, he’s also regularly recognized for his character, leadership and philanthropy, including previously winning an NBA Sportsmanship Award—the first time ever for a Hawks player.
But for Korver, it’s less about consciously giving back and more about a way of life. “For me, I grew up in a Christian church, my father was a pastor and we lived out our faith as how we made the community better,” he says. “I’d go and do service every Saturday [in Paramount, California] growing up. It was ingrained in me. It wasn’t charity or philanthropy; it was just what we did. It was more about living well.”
He created the Kyle Korver Foundation during his first NBA tenure in Philadelphia as a 76er. There, he established a long-term relationship with the city’s Helping Hand Rescue Mission, which continues today. It’s typical of Korver, who says that it’s important to him to make an investment in places he’s helping support. “I didn’t want to come in and try to do something just to do it,” he says. “I was looking for something with a true need, where we could make a sustainable plan.”
That spirit carried over to Korver’s career with the Utah Jazz: He still supports People Builders Utah, and has helped with the construction of more than 100 wheelchair ramps. He took that same spirit to the Chicago Bulls, and he brought it to Atlanta as well, where he recently partnered with Plywood People, an Atlanta-based supporter of start-ups that address community problems, for a putt-putt tournament at Ponce City Market. Korver notes that while he does like traditional means of fundraising, he likes to mix it up and keep it interesting, fun and achievable. “Not everyone can play golf, but everyone can play putt-putt,” he says. “It felt more inclusive.”
He continues, “I think anyone who is in the world of fundraising says, ‘How do we make it different?’ You want your cause to stand out and feel new and fresh. But also, how do we make this fun? It’s too easy to get burned out in the charity world. It needs to be fun for the organizers as well as the attendees, while keeping it all about the cause.” Korver humorously notes that not every “fun” idea works out: “For one event, we thought it would be fun to try the longest kickball game ever. It was 24 hours long, and we still hold the title in the “Guinness Book of World Records.” In retrospect, it was the worst idea ever, but for a really great cause!”
Korver’s been having a blast working on the foundation with his younger brother, former college basketball player Klayton, who recently moved with his wife to Atlanta. Klayton, now an Old Fourth Ward resident, has been “the point person for the last seven or so years,” says Korver. “He and his wife have been amazing, have been really kind and willing to help. Besides my wife, I can’t imagine someone else I’d rather be doing this with. It’s brought our relationship to a new level and brought us closer as a family.”
Look for the brothers and their families on September 24, when the Kyle Korver Foundation hosts a dodgeball tournament at Georgia Tech’s Recreation Center. “We’ve done dodgeball before in Utah,” says Korver. “It’s nostalgic. Everyone gets dressed up—gotta have the clothes to go with the teams!” The tournament will start with pool play, followed by single elimination rounds. The winner will play Korver and some of his Hawks teammates, with all funds going to support local initiatives through the Kyle Korver Foundation. “We’re looking forward to a great day,” he says.
For more information on Korver’s dodgeball tournament and other ways to get involved, head to kylekorverfoundation.com, or follow Korver on Facebook at facebook.com/kylekorver26.
STORY: Lauren Finney
PHOTO: Atlanta Hawks