Minneapolis-St. Paul – The Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx today announced a partnership with RISE to unite and create programming to eliminate racial discrimination, champion social justice and improve race relations.
On June 4, Timberwolves Associate Head Coach David Vanterpool and Lynx Assistant Coach Rebekkah Brunson joined Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx CEO Ethan Casson and Kim Miller, Vice President of Programs at RISE, to lead a community conversation for the Timberwolves and Lynx staff surrounding the impact of George Floyd’s death, personal experiences and emotions regarding social injustice and systemic racism. That conversation provided a starting point for what turned out to be one of the most comprehensive partnerships that RISE has created. The multi-year partnership will include:
- Building Bridges Through Basketball Series: will use basketball to unite youth and law enforcement in the Twin Cities to discuss social injustice and police reform. The program is designed to break barriers, build trust and create pathways for positive communication.
- Perceptions Survey: will gather perceptions of the impact of race and diversity in the workplace and utilize data to drive change in- and outside the workplace.
- Internal Workshops: will help leaders build foundational structures like Employee Resource Groups, Diversity and Inclusion Groups and inclusive events.
- RISE to Vote Event: will educate fans and participants on the history of voting and civic engagement through the lens of sports and will equip attendees with the knowledge and motivation to register and exercise their right to vote. The Timberwolves and Lynx will announce bigger plans to encourage voter turnout leading up to Election Day, the newest company holiday for the organization.
- Community Town Hall: will include players, coaches, executives and city officials to discuss how to advocate for change and use their platforms for change.
- Champions of Change Activation: will help educate the Timberwolves and Lynx community during Black History Month, featuring a multi-sensory display showcasing the intersection of sport and social injustice through an interactive experience.
“This integrated partnership will provide us the opportunity to have a lasting impact in areas of racial equality and social justice,” said Casson. “These timely programs will provide our staff, players and coaches with the necessary resources and education to be agents of change within our community.”
RISE, who initially worked with the Timberwolves in a 2018 Building Bridges Through Basketball event including center Karl-Anthony Towns, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Chief of Minneapolis Police Medaria Arradondo, is proud to take their partnership to the next level.
“True racial equity is achieved only through long-term intentional action that explicitly addresses race, and this partnership with the Timberwolves and Lynx demonstrates how committed the organization is to creating meaningful, lasting change throughout their communities,” RISE CEO Diahann Billings-Burford said. “We believe sports are the ultimate unifier and an effective platform to engage in these often difficult conversations. Through our programs that equip athletes, coaches and staff with the tools to be leaders in addressing racism, diversity and inclusion, we will be able to help educate and empower the entire Minnesota Timberwolves and Lynx organization to spark the change they want to see.”
Details on each of the programs included in the Timberwolves, Lynx and RISE partnership will be released as the events and programs are announced at a later date.