Shaka Smart and FRIENDS Association for Children advance to “Sweet Sixteen” of Coaches Charity Challenge

We’ve made it to Round 3 of the ESPN Infiniti Coaches Challenge. If he makes it to the “Final Four,” FRIENDS gets another $15,000!

Update #1 — February 18, 2015; 7:12 AM

Redouble your efforts to vote for Shaka every single day–and get everyone you know to do the same–because baby, we are getting close to victory.

Shaka Smart and FRIENDS Association for Children have made it to Round 3 of the ESPN Infiniti Coaches Challenge. With every round, FRIENDS gets thousands of dollars! After this “Sweet Sixteen” situation (getting here landed FRIENDS $10,000), we move on to the “Final Four” and another $15,000.

If Shaka wins the whole shebang, that’s $100,000 that goes directly to helping children in our community. I try and try but I can think of no better cause.

From Shaka (it’s OK for all of us to continually address him by his first name as if we were close personal friends, right?):

“Maya and I have seen firsthand the positive influence they have on the children”, Coach Smart said.  “We want to do all we can to help their work to prepare these children for success in school.”

From David Young, Director of FRIENDS:

“Shaka and Maya’s commitment to helping FRIENDS goes well beyond the Coaches Challenge, and we are extremely grateful to them”, said FRIENDS Executive Director, J. David Young. “Their support has definitely increased our ability to help our children and families.  It has also helped build greater awareness of who we are across the entire community. This is a very special couple and they have done so much for VCU and Richmond.  We need RVA and VCU supporters everywhere – including the corporate community – to show their appreciation by voting for Coach Smart today and every day.  It takes less a minute!”

You can vote online every single day!

Here’s a tweet that I have graciously crafted for you to copy/paste to all your friends:

Vote Shaka and FRIENDS every single day, or your motives are suspect.

— ∮∮∮ —

Original — January 06, 2015

Supporters of VCU basketball, supporters of children, and supporters of the very future of our city–unite by giving Shaka Smart your daily vote!

ESPN and Infiniti have selected 48 coaches to participate in the annual Coaches Charity Challenge, which gives coaches the opportunity to raise money for the nonprofit of their choice. You vote (with a once-daily max), and every time your coach gets to the next round, the selected nonprofit gets some much needed cash!

Does it sound like a tournament? You’re catching on!

Coach Smart has selected a cause near and dear to the hearts of his family–FRIENDS, the children’s foundation that has been caring for and educating Jackson Ward and Church Hill kids for more than a century.

“Most coaches pick national, well-known nonprofits,” says J. David Young, Executive Director of FRIENDS. “But Shaka decided, ‘Wait a minute, we’re VCU. We’re a local college with really strong grassroots.’ He figured a gift of $100,000 would have much more of an impact on an organization of our size than it would for one of those big multinational organizations.”

If you ever have a chance to talk to Young, you will leave that conversation inspired and hopeful for the future of civilization. FRIENDS is open from 6:00 AM – 6:00 PM, provides nutritious meals, takes kids to school, picks them up, helps them with their homework, and keeps them in a safe and caring environment until their parents are finished with work. And they’ve been helping families for nearly a century and a half.

Funded by a handful of programs as well as grants and donations from people who care about giving children a solid foundation as much as Young and his staff do. “We all want the same thing,” Young says, bringing it down to brass tacks. “We want the best for our children.” And FRIENDS fills the gap in the lives of parents who need help with childcare, meals, and tutoring.

Located in Jackson Ward (whence it began) and making huge strides in Church Hill (the Church Hill location accepts infants as young as six months old!), FRIENDS could majorly increase their efforts if you get everyone you know to vote for Shaka Smart. Over and over and over.

Spread the word!

Photos by: Will Weaver

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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