Trail Blazers’ guard opens first CJ McCollum Dream Center at a Boys and Girls Club in Northeast Portland.
The NBA’s 2015 Most Improved Player, CJ McCollum, has continued to shine in the early days of the 2016 season. Averaging 22 points per game, McCollum continues to prove why he has earned the $106 million contract from the Portland Trail Blazers. The good fortune has not been lost on McCollum. A longtime advocate for literacy and writing programs, the journalism major recently made a major investment in the Portland community. Partnering with MODA Health and other local entities, McCollum opened the first of several Dream Centers, learning spaces equipped with computers, books, and other tools to inspire young children to explore their passions and dreams.
McCollum, who is making a name for himself as a top guard in the league as well as off the court as a budding journalist and media personality, can now add philanthropist to his various titles. He has been a model for how young pro athletes should manage their finances, particularly when it comes to charitable giving. Soon after signing his first contract, McCollum established a donor-advised fund, which has allowed him to make annual charitable contributions to his fund with delayed payouts to organizations of his choice. This philanthropic vehicle is much more easily managed and requires much less oversight than a typical foundation. The stories of professional athlete foundations failing are, unfortunately, too many to count. McCollum’s choice to employ a donor-advised fund gave him the freedom to invest in various causes over his first four years in the league while working out his options for a major community investment.
McCollum decided on the Dream Center at the Blazers Boys and Girls Club in Portland after meeting with local youth to hear about their ambitions and to ask them what they needed in order to pursue their goals. Rather than creating and investing in programs that the community may not need, McCollum and partners took time to talk with their beneficiaries and identify the gaps in service. For underserved youth, technology and even print reading material is not always readily accessible. McCollum’s Dream Center supplies these necessary learning tools, which will jump start young boys’ and girls’ success.
Lastly, McCollum’s philanthropic investment is sustainable and scalable. Plans include several more Dream Centers in different communities around Oregon. McCollum explained, “Portland has made a long-term commitment to me, and I am excited to now do the same with the communities that have been so supportive of me on my way to achieving my dream of playing in the NBA.” He has recognized early in his career that giving back positively impacts all involved, and he is establishing himself and his family as life-long givers. McCollum will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on the lives of many Portlanders, and he will surely continue to make news both on and off the basketball court.
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